It was a tragic accident that ended the life of Bozeman helicopter pilot Tom Duffy while fighting wildfires in California. But instead of focusing on his death, those who were impacted by his life choose to remember him with laughter.
“What we’ll all remember about Tom is him squeezing himself into helicopters and then being able to fly those helicopters like nobody else can,” said Jason Jarrett with the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office.
“He’s such a great pilot. I mean I flown with him. I mean he was just incredible up there,” said Pat Koelzer, a close friend.
The Bozeman pilot died in a helicopter accident Monday, but his community gathered to honor and say their final farewells Thursday.
“I'm here just to pay my respects and say goodbye… just say goodbye," Koelzer said with tears in his eyes.
Duffy used his skills as a pilot serving various organizations like the Gallatin County Search and Rescue.
“It’s a sad day for us all. We’re certainly going to miss Tom and his skill as a rescue pilot here in Gallatin County. The things he’s done for the community here as certainly been invaluable,” Jarrett said.
And he’ll be remembered not only for his efforts to his community, but also his heart for others.
“Just a great guy. A pillar of the community, generosity, a big heart. He’ll be missed,” Koelzer said.
“He was a size and a half man with a heart to match that. A kind, gentle giant. That was funny to try and watch crawl himself into a helicopter. But absolutely one of the world’s greatest mountain pilots,” Jarrett explained.
Duffy’s funeral service and burial will be held privately and only open to close friends and family.