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Longtime Grand Lake Township firefighter David Fremling dies | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

Published March 10, 2013, 12:00 AM

Longtime Grand Lake Township firefighter David Fremling dies

David Fremling always responded to calls for help, a longtime fellow firefighter said.

By: John Lundy , Duluth News Tribune

David Fremling always responded to calls for help, a longtime fellow firefighter said.

“He’d come fix cars, he’d come catch mice, kill rats,” said Dewey Johnson, who replaced Fremling as chief of the Grand Lake Township Volunteer Fire Department in 2011. “Dave was always the kind of guy you’d want to call.”

Fremling, who lived in Twig, died Friday of mesothelioma, the same disease that took the lives of his mother and a brother. He was 54.

He served for 28½ years on the fire department, including a couple of stints as chief. He retired in May 2011. He was devoted to the work, said his daughter, Elizabeth Fremling of Andover, Minn.

“That was a huge part of his life and became a part of our lives as well,” said Elizabeth Fremling, 33. “We’d wash those fire trucks, I remember.”

Fremling grew up in the Proctor area in a large family, one of 10 children born to Ruben and Alice Fremling. Johnson noted that a Fremling crossed the stage at Proctor High School’s graduation ceremony for 26 straight years. David Fremling graduated in 1976.

He was an avid outdoorsman who went with a friend to the same deer camp in the Cotton area for 30 straight years, his daughter said. He wanted to have his ashes spread at the deer camp and at the two Grand Lake Township fire halls, she said.

His love of the outdoors started young, said his sister, Pam Augustine of Duluth.

“We were always together as kids, going on family camping trips,” she said. “Sunday drives after church was always a big thing.”

Both Augustine and Johnson said Fremling seemed to know and be known by everybody. About 2,000 people came to a fundraiser for Fremling last year, Johnson said, and numerous firefighters from other departments came to visit him in the past couple of weeks.

“He was personable, funny, friendly — sometimes overly friendly,” Augustine said. “How do you describe someone who is an all-around good guy?”

Elizabeth Fremling said her father took time to teach his four children his skills, and he modeled helpfulness.

“If there was a broken car on the side of the road and we saw it, we knew we were stopping,” she said. “Dad always went out of his way to help people.”

David Fremling was diagnosed with mesothelioma in December 2011. Augustine said their mother, Alice, and their brother, Mike, died from the same disease.

Mesothelioma is a rare, fatal form of cancer almost exclusively seen in people who have been exposed to asbestos, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. The health department is studying an unusual number of cases in Northeastern Minnesota, but most of those have been linked to taconite mining.

Fremling is survived by his four children, his three granddaughters, his father and eight siblings.

Visitation will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday at Bell Brothers Funeral Home, 601 N. 56th Ave. W.

Longtime Grand Lake Township firefighter David Fremling dies | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

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