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Retired firefighter succumbs to cancer surrounded by family, friends at RVH

'I was told that Grant slipped away, but came to and the family was called in,' says friend and fellow firefighter; Grant McCulloch was 66

Just two days after he was given a hero’s salute outside Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre earlier this week, retired firefighter Grant McCulloch has died. 

Two weeks ago, doctors discovered the 66-year-old had terminal cancer of the esophagus and gave him very little time to live.

A parade of first-responders paid tribute to McCulloch on Monday afternoon as they drove by his window at the Barrie hospital while he was surrounded by family.

Jim Brown, deputy platoon chief with the Canadian Forces Base Borden fire department, said McCulloch passed away this morning and was surrounded by those who loved him.

“One of the men who served for years with Grant actually was with him," Brown told BarrieToday in a phone interview Wednesday evening. "He had missed the parade on Monday and was able to get there today. He was holding Grant’s hand and they were joking and laughing.

"I was told that Grant slipped away, but came to and the family was called in," Brown added. "About 10 minutes later, Grant passed away peacefully with people in the room to say goodbye.”

McCulloch served at CFB Borden for 44 years and retired late last year, but COVID-19 restrictions prevented his fellow firefighters from having a party for him.

This year, McCulloch developed heart issues and was admitted to RVH, where he had been receiving care.

It was determined that he needed bypass surgery, but when they attempted to intubate him, they were unable to do so. 

That’s when doctors discovered the cancer.

McCulloch was also a volunteer firefighter in Barrie and a member of the Simcoe County Rescue Squad from 1981 until 1991. He was also a CFB Borden firefighter from 1990 to 2020, and was the union president for Local 620.

Prior to becoming a firefighter, McCulloch worked at the Department of National Defence Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot.

McCulloch leaves behind wife Marjory, daughter Susan, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based in Barrie
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