Former Garden Grove Fire Chief Tom Schultz dies at 54 after battling cancer

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (KABC) -- Tom Schultz, who served as chief of the Garden Grove Fire Department until the end of last year, died Sunday after battling pancreatic and liver cancer, the agency announced. He was 54.

"Words alone cannot describe the immeasurable heartache felt by his family and friends, including his Garden Grove, Fullerton, and Brea fire families," Acting Fire Chief T.J. McGovern said in a statement, referring to Schultz as "our firefighter brother."

"Anyone who is in the Orange County Fire Service has more than likely been influenced by Chief Shultz at some point," McGovern said, noting that Shultz served the residents of Fullerton and Brea for 30 years before becoming Garden Grove fire chief on April 29, 2015.

In 2018, Schultz notified the city manager of his decision to retire, effective Sept. 14, but at the city manager's request, he continued to serve until the end of that year, while a decision was made on whether to retain the city fire department or transfer to the Orange County Fire Authority.

"Garden Grove has lost an admirable man and an exceptional leader who proudly devoted himself to protecting lives serving a community that will forever be in his debt,'' Garden Grove Mayor Steve Jones said in statement. "Our most heartfelt thoughts and condolences are with his family during this difficult time, shared by all those who knew him."

A GoFundMe page has been created in Schultz's honor.
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