Lawrence H. Goldberg, a Baltimore City firefighter and battalion chief who was also a life member and former chief of the Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company, died Thursday from complications of rectal cancer at Gilchrist Center Towson. The Homeland resident was 50.
“Larry always wanted to help others, and there’s nothing more noble you can do with your life than helping your fellow man during their time of need, and he knew that," said Glenn C. Resnick, a Pikesville resident and fellow Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company firefighter. “He was such a great person, and his compassion for his fellow man was just incredible."
Lawrence Howard Goldberg, the son of Marvin Goldberg, a pharmacist, and his former wife, Barbara N. Goldberg, a registered nurse, was born in Baltimore and raised on Brook Avenue in Overlea.
After graduating from Loyola High School in 1987, he attended what is now Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, W. Va.
Mr. Goldberg began his firefighting and paramedic career with the Pikesville fire company in 1988, eventually rising to become its captain and a life member. In 1991, he joined the Baltimore City Fire Department as a paramedic in what was his first paid position.
He quickly moved up through the ranks, becoming a lieutenant, captain, and for the last eight years of his career was chief of the Fourth Battalion at Engine 42 on Harford Road near Beverly Hills.
“Larry relished everything about his career, including the camaraderie, fighting fires, saving lives, and helping people in some of their most desperate times,” said his wife of 22 years, the former Deborah A. Yale, a registered nurse.
In addition to his work with the city fire department, Mr. Goldberg taught at the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute for more than 25 years, teaching classes that included firefighting, management, hazardous materials, rescue specialties, and emergency medical services.
“Larry was just an amazing instructor and taught many students throughout Maryland,” said Mr. Resnick, a friend of 40 years. " He knew how to convey the material and would work with you until you got it. He wanted everyone to do better and he wanted to make them better."
He said his friend liked recounting stories from his career.
“He had a great sense of humor and had the ability to laugh at himself,” Mr. Resnick said. “And if you can’t laugh at yourself in the fire service, then you won’t last very long. The more they tease you, the more they liked you. And Larry could dish it out and take it as well.”
One story the two men shared happened years ago when Mr. Goldberg, a newly minted paramedic, and Mr. Resnick arrived at the home of a woman who was lodged tightly in her bathtub, unable to get out.
“I had mentored, Larry to be a paramedic,” Mr. Resnick said.
“We arrived at this woman’s house and she says, ‘Two handsome Jewish guys have come to save me.’ Well, Larry tried to pull her up, and I offered to help him, and he said no, he could do it. He then slipped and fell right onto her chest, and then came up with soap bubbles all over his face. He was just mortified.”
Mr. Resnick said they were able to successfully extricate the woman after turning on the tap and bringing more water into the tub, which helped break the suction that kept the woman a prisoner.
“We laughed about that story for the next 40 years. People said it had to be 100% factual because every time he told it, it never varied,” Mr. Resnick said, with a laugh.
During his career, Mr. Goldberg received numerous awards, some of which included Pikeville Volunteer Fire Company Firefighter of the Year Award for 2019, and also was presented the J. Donald Mooney Training Award from the Baltimore County Volunteer Firemen’s Association this year, which recognized his contributions to training and instruction.
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Mr. Goldberg continued working during his chemo treatments and radiation therapy.
“He’d go, take his treatment, and go back to work. He believed until the end that he was going to beat his cancer and said so,” Mr. Resnick said. “When he got to Gilchrist, the first thing he asked about was physical therapy. What a courageous individual.”
Mr. Goldberg, who had not retired at his death, enjoyed camping, playing golf and spending time with family and friends.
Funeral services will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Goldberg is survived by a son, Zachary A. Goldberg of Homeland; a daughter, Micaela A. Goldberg of Homeland; his father and stepmother, Mary L. Goldberg of West Palm Beach, Fla.; three sisters, Debbie Palardy of Perry Hall, Patricia Lamond of Fallston and Sharon Solimini of Boca Raton, Fla.; and many nieces and nephews.