Farewell to a fallen comrade

Firefighters pay last respects to Scandia F&RD Capt. John Larson

030813_larsonfuneral-1 Firefighters and rescue personnel from throughout the St. Croix Valley gathered Thursday at a west Stillwater cemetery to bid a final goodbye to a fallen comrade.
The ashes of Scandia Fire and Rescue Department Capt. John Larson were interred at Rutherford Cemetery off Manning Avenue and 75th Street under the gaze of family, friends, firefighters and rescue personnel one week after Larson died in a two-vehicle accident at the Manning Avenue-Minnesota 36 intersection.

The urn containing Larson’s cremains was brought graveside by a Scandia F&RD engine and carried to the gravesite by four Scandia firefighters as family, friends and colleagues looked on under a chilly, hazy sunshine.030813_larsonfuneral-2

The 42-year-old Larson of Marine on St. Croix was a nine-year member of the SF&RD and served as the volunteer fire department’s training captain at the time of his death.

Larson’s cremains were escorted to Rutherford Cemetery by a long procession of fire vehicles and ambulances that made a slow journey to the cemetery following funeral services earlier in the day at Elim Lutheran Church on Olinda Trail in Scandia.
Rutherford Cemetery Association Vice President Tim Kruse said Washington County Sheriff’s deputies told him that as many as 30 engines from area fire departments were expected to make the drive from Scandia to Stillwater.

“I was just talking to a sheriff’s deputy and they were talking 25 to 30 engines,” Kruse said. “They wanted to deliver his ashes on a fire truck as part of the firefighter’s funeral.”

The engine carrying Larson’s cremains entered the cemetery’s south entrance and slowly drove around a snow-packed one-lane drive before stopping at the gravesite. The other fire engines and ambulances parked on the side of Manning Avenue under the watchful eyes of WCSO deputies.

“The county did a real nice job of getting the sidewalks and shoulders plowed away after Tuesdays’ snow,” Kruse said.

Larson’s resting place is in one of the county’s most historic cemeteries, according to cemetery association member Iona Holsten.

“We claim to be the oldest cemetery in the state. We have Civil War veterans buried in here,” she said.

Larson’s funeral and graveside ceremony followed a Wednesday night gathering of family and friends at Roberts Family Funeral in Forest Lake.

Larson is survived by his wife, Paula; children Jeremy, Chantel and Hannah; parents, Pat and Neil Larson; sister Bridgett (Dan) Freimuth; brother, Eric (Carrie) Larson; mother- and father-in-law, Sue and James Burton; sister-in-law, Pam (Dan) Mewhorter, and nieces and nephews.

(Gazette Photos by Erik Sandin)