LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – This week, Lake George Volunteer Fire Dept. is mourning one of its former leaders. In a Facebook post on Wednesday, the department announced the passing of former fire chief Bruce Kilburn, who spent three decades serving the Lake George community at both the fire department and Lake George Emergency Squad. Kilburn was 73.
“Bruce and I were friends for I can’t tell you how many years,” said fellow past Lake George VFD Chief Christopher Hawley. “He was the man on the job for a lot of bad issues over a number of years.”
Kilburn served as chief from 2004 to 2008, those just a few of many years known as a face of the department. While serving as chief, Kilburn led the response to the 2005 Ethan Allen boat crash, a disaster that killed 20 people on the lake. He was there, too, for the 2007 fire that destroyed the former Prospect Mountain Diner, as well as a 2004 motel explosion. He also served as the captain of Lake George EMS.
His dual footprints in Lake George’s fire and EMS squads weren’t the only ones Kilburn left. He and his wife, Sadie, were also the owners of the former Sullivan’s Rexall Drug Store & Gift Shop, at the corner of Shepard Park opposite Montcalm Street. He and his wife inherited the store from original owner Leo Sullivan upon his retirement.
Between the store running during the village’s busy summers, and the two departments with a community to serve, he bounced around so much that the village gave him a dedicated parking spot so he could get in and out – not an easy feat in the traffic-choked warmer months.
“Sometimes I think he spent more time serving the public than his own store,” said Hawley. “He was always in and out.”
Hawley and Kilburn’s friendship developed over a series of crossing paths across the decades. Hawley is in his second run as fire chief, having first served from 1991 to ’94. When Kilburn had his run, Hawley stepped back in as assistant chief. Today, Kilburn hopes to keep the former chief’s memory alive for the current generation of firefighters keeping the village of Lake George safe and sound.
“A lot of leaders aren’t the most popular guys in the world, but if you look up ‘Nice Guy’ in the dictionary, his picture’s there,” Hawley said. “Whether it was the rescue squad guys, the firefighters or someone in the community, he would make time for anyone.”