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Wife shares memories, final moments with Richmond Fire Battalion Chief

Wife shares memories, final moments with Richmond Fire Battalion Chief
Posted at 11:21 PM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-29 07:12:54-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- One day before hundreds gathered for a celebration of life for the late Richmond Fire Battalion Chief Bobby Duffus, his wife shared with CBS 6 fond memories, final moments and a legacy that lives on.

"This is his chain and his ring," said Patti Duffus, holding up the ring around her neck. "I’ll wear it forever. And this is the donate band that they gave me at the hospital."

Keeping a piece of him close to her heart, Patti returned to her late husband's fire station to remember the man that dedicated 31 years to service to the Richmond Fire Department.

"Every single day. There won’t be a day that goes by that I don’t think about him," Patti said.

On Tuesday, family, friends and loved ones gathered at a Richmond Funeral Home to honor Chief Duffus.

"Bobby was a good firefighter, but more importantly he was a good man," said Richmond Fire Chief Melvin Carter.

"This isn't supposed to be a funeral. This is a celebration of life," said friend, Trent Davis. "Bobby definitely celebrated life."

Patti knew that to be true.

"He never met a stranger. Always had a smile on his face," she said. "We made memories almost every day," she said.

One of their most cherished memories was October 15. Which Patti said signified the day they met, their first date, engagement and wedding anniversary.

"He’s the romantic one, not me," said Patti with a laugh. "So, he said it would be easy for me to remember."

But before the couple could ring in their seven-year anniversary, Patti said Chief Duffus was injured off-duty, during a night at home around their fire pit.

"He tripped on a piece of wood and fell into it, and didn’t want to use his hands because he knew being a firefighter that if your hands get burnt that’s a severe injury and he would be out for a while so he kept trying to use his leg to pull him back up rather than getting his hands in the fire," Patti said. "He had second and third-degree burns on his whole right leg.

Patti said Chief Duffus was admitted to Chippenham Hospital where, after a successful initial procedure Thursday, he was expected to undergo minor surgery Friday. But Chief Duffus never made it through that process.

"That morning around 6:11 he called me and said, 'hey they just told me they’re coming to get me, again take your time. I’ll see you in the room when I get back around 8:30 or 9. I love you,'" Patti said.

Less than half an hour later, she said Chief Duffus had coded.

"I got upstairs, and they started testing him," Patti said. "Did some scans and found, I guess, from the injury he had had off duty, it caused blood clots in his upper thighs and one broke off and hit his lung and he had a pulmonary embolism."

Patti said he experienced brain swelling from the lack of oxygen and passed Sunday night.

By Tuesday, doctors, nurses, and loved ones lined the hallways as Chief Duffus made his final gift, donating his organs.

"He was still giving and saving lives until the very end," Patti said. "And that was Bobby."

Patti said she hoped Chief Duffus's example would encourage others to become organ donors. In lieu of flowers, the Duffus family asked for people to contribute to Donate Life America.