Respect is earned, not demanded. Larry Garcia’s 28-year tenure as Wichita fire chief will be remembered for leadership and compassion, earning the respect of the men and women in the department he served for 50 years.
He joined the department in 1957 almost by accident, saving a woman inside a house where smoke was exiting as he was on his way to a job interview at the post office. Asked to join the fire department, he never left.
Garcia worked his way up the ladder and retired as Wichita’s longest-serving city employee and one of the city’s highest-ranked Hispanic government officials.
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Lincoln Montgomery, pastor at Tabernacle Baptist Church, was mentored by Garcia and said compassion was one of his strongest gifts. “… He would tell me that ‘If I err, I want to err on the side of mercy.’ ”