Lawrence P. “Larry” Hurlbut
Lawrence Phelps “Larry” Hurlbut a lifelong resident of Winchester Center passed away on Sunday, June 2, 2013 at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital surrounded by his loving family. He was born in Winsted, CT on November 17, 1918 to the late Lester and Florence (Beach) Hurlbut. He worked the Hurlbut Farm alongside his parents and brother’s Elmer and Philip. Many stories have been passed down to me as he was 50 when I was born. I always told him that I kept him young. One of my favorites was how they would have to cut ice chunks from the Hurlbut Pond and haul them to the barn to keep the milk cool. He would wake up without an alarm to be at the barn for 4 in the morning at lunch he’d have a quick lunch and a 15 minute nap again without a clock. One year we took a trip to the Museum, he explained every tool they had and some they didn’t. His knowledge was vast, his skills were taught to anybody willing to learn and his memory was extremely sharp until his last days. On May 19, 1946 he married the former Jean Meyer in Torrington and he was able to purchase the farm house the only place he has ever lived.
Larry was a founding member of the Winchester Volunteer Fire Department and was elected as their first chief in 1948. One of his proudest moments was when he was recognized as the longest active fire chief in the United States having served 63 years. In 1977 the three Hurlbut Brother’s decided that they would sell the farm and retire from farming. I say retire from farming as none of them actually retired. At the age of 59 he started his employment with the Town of Winchester working for the street department. We picked on him because shortly after starting to work for them Blizzard Larry hit in Feb 78. It was so appropriate for the storm to be named that. There were many other storms during his 16 years and if he was called into work in the middle of the night he would always say “back to bed I’ll make sure you have school in the morning”. He could work circles around some of the younger guys and nobody ever believed his age. In 1993 at 75 years old he retired again. Well not really. He started mowing lawns and was a grounds keeper which he remained doing until he was 90. Larry was very proud of his 5 acre lawn which he push mowed until he made an attachment so that he could stand on his mower. Even in the past couple years he could still be found mowing his lawn.
Larry was loved by many people and will be missed by his family, friends and the community. Besides being Chief he was passionate about antique cars. He could often be seen driving around with the top down in his 1970 Chevy Malibu one of his prized possessions. Again his knowledge of antique vehicles was vast as he owned so many of them over the years and had been a member of the Litchfield Hills Antique Car Club in which he had been a member for 56 years. Larry has received the following honors: • Winsted Fire Dept. 1986 Parade Marshall • 42 Years of Service – CT Forest Fire Warden • Recognized by Nancy L. Johnson, A Member of Congress, House of Representatives on August 16, 1997 for “fifty outstanding years of service as Chief who is a fine example to all those who aspire to be great firefighters. In the State of CT, no other individual has been an active chief for fifty years.” • August 16, 1997 from the State of CT General Assembly Official Citation in recognition of “fifty years of chief, which is a record in the State of CT.” • August 16, 1997 by Christopher J. Dodd, United States Senator “Your bravery in the face of personal harm never wavers and our gratitude for your uncommon valor is something that can never be adequately expressed.” • August 15, 1997 Office of the Mayor Proclamation “Whereas, by his continuous dedication, Lawrence P. Hurlbut serves as an inspiration for all those in the Town of Winchester” • The CT State Firefighters Association – 60 year award – May 24, 2008 • In appreciation for 60 years of dedication and devotion to the Litchfield County Fire Chief’s Emergency Plan and the Burrville Fire Training School – May 24, 2008 • April 7, 2010 he was inducted into the CT State Firefighters Association Hall of Fame
Larry also received a plaque from the Winchester Center Congregational Church for being a member for 80 years having joined on January 5, 1933. On August 11, 2010 he received his 75 year certificate from the Grange.
As Chief and as a co-worker he treated and asked others for nothing more or less than what he expected from himself. Every year for a few weeks of the summer he would be found vacationing on the shores of Lake Champlain at Camp Everest in Milton, a family tradition that started in the mid 50’s. As his children grew so did the numbers that would be at Camp. His children would bring their children and pets and sometimes even their friends. It would not be uncommon to find up to 20 people in the camp sleeping wherever they could find floor space. We would fish all day and play 9-5 well into the night.
He is survived by his loving wife of 67 years Jean ; 6 children: Laurie and Jeff ; Tim and wife Marcia; Chris ; Robin and wife Suzann; Peter and Jenn ; Kara and husband Kevin; six grandchildren and five great grandchildren: Kristin husband Shawn and their children Justin and Cheyenne; Elizabeth husband Ethan, their son Percy and one due on Larry’s birthday; Rachel husband Josh and their children Oliver and Channing; Justin; Allison and Kyle ; his siblings Philip and wife Marion; Virgina ; Eunice; brother-in-law William “Bill” and wife Fayne sister-in-law Vima , many nieces and nephews including a special nephew David that he always considered as a son.
He was also predeceased by his siblings: Dorothy , Ken , Frances and Elmer.
The family extends a special Thank You to his son Robin and the many doctors, nurses, and staff who provided their care during his last week.