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Rocky Hill fire Captain laid to rest after battle with work-related cancer

Capt. Jim Lamarre was a Rocky Hill Firefighter for 27 years

ROCKY HILL, Conn. — After a months-long battle with work-related cancer, Rocky Hill firefighter Capt. James (Jim) Lamarre was laid to rest on Friday.

Family, friends, and first responders from across Connecticut came to town for his funeral at St. Josephine Bakhita Parish- St. James Church. The fire department and other first responders lead the family in a procession throughout the day.

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"Jim was very energetic, had a very boisterous laugh, such a super fun guy. But also very caring," said Kara Bates, Lamarre’s step-daughter. "He would help anyone at the drop of a dime, whether you knew him for 10 years or just met him."

Lamarre was a mechanic and a volunteer firefighter for the Rocky Hill Fire Department for 27, going on 28 years. Before that, he served in the United States Army as a sharpshooter and diesel mechanic. Those skills are only some of what made him so valuable to the fire department. 

“His job was to take care of everything soup to nuts, apparatus, air packs gear," said Chief Michael Garrahy of the Rocky Hill Fire Department. Michael and Jim grew up together, and have only grown closer over the years.

"One of my first calls in the morning. Just a very close friend," Chief Garrahy said. 

Lamarre was so passionate about his work, he was still getting involved, even weeks before his passing. 

“Probably three weeks before Jim passed, and he’s directing repairs over the phone from his hospital bed. That’s just the type of person he is," Garrahy said.

That passion was picked up by Jim's step-children. Both his son, Chris Bates, and his daughter, Kara Bates, volunteer at the Rocky Hill Fire Department. Chris is a firefighter, and Kara is on the EMS side of things.

“Following in his footsteps," Chris Bates said.

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Lamarre may have been the person to call in a crisis, but his family always came first. 

"He loves his family, me and Chris, like his own. He took us in when we were both pretty much teenagers. And that's a hard time to start raising kids. But he treated us like his own kids," Kara Bates said. Kara's mom and Jim got together when Chris and she were younger. They've been a family unit ever since. 

They’ve all spent the last five months cherishing every moment with him. In September, Jim was diagnosed with lung cancer, related to his work. It progressed quickly, but the impact he had on his loved ones and even those he never knew, are lasting. 

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"His personality would just suck you right into him," said Capt. Neil Khunkhun with the Rocky Hill Fire Department, and a longtime friend of Jim's. "You couldn't, even though you wanted to get upset sometimes, you couldn't stay away from him. He just drove you to be better."

Since he died in the line of duty, Lamarre received full military and fire department honors at the funeral. He was laid to rest shortly after at Center Cemetery. 

Gov. Ned Lamont directed all flags at half staff from sunrise to sunset, as family and friends said goodbye.

Julia LeBlanc is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jleblanc@fox61.com Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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