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Paying tribute to a fallen fire chief

There was a touching tribute today for the Howard Lake Fire Chief Daryl “Taddy” Drusch who died unexpectedly yesterday.

COKATO, Minn. — A procession of firetrucks from 21 area departments traveled from Minneapolis to Cokato on Tuesday afternoon, in order to honor Howard Lake Fire Chief Daryl “Taddy” Drusch, who died suddenly on Monday morning.

RELATED: Howard Lake fire chief dies unexpectedly

Family, friends and firefighters lined the streets and saluted from overpasses along Highway 12, in order to show their love for a man who spent the majority of his life volunteering to protect others.

"30 years. He was always there,” said Taddy’s brother, Chuck Drusch. “If he was around and there was a call, he was on it. He didn't miss."

"The pager went off, he was one of the first ones to be there,” said Taddy’s sister, Linda Drusch. “It didn't matter, day or night."

The family tells KARE11, they are rallying around Taddy's wife, Julie, and 15 year old son, Taylor. Julie found Taddy dead from an apparent heart attack early Monday morning, just hours after he responded to an emergency call.

“We thought he was the healthiest one in the clan. That's why it's so unexpected," Linda Drusch said, adding that even Taddy was unaware of any underlying heart conditions. "He had complained of some indigestion that night and that was it."

Despite the suddenness of his death, Taddy’s family was comforted by the overwhelming show of support from area fire departments and surrounding community members, many of whom stood along the road in freezing temperatures, to salute him as he passed by on his way back home for a final time.

"It's just amazing all the people you actually find out that he knew and touched their lives in many ways,” Chuck Drusch said.

"It's overwhelming,” Linda said. “It’s amazing and you can't put it into words.”

As a final, selfless act, Taddy fulfilled his mission to become an organ donor. Family members tell KARE11 that his eyes and tissue will soon help someone else.