Helmut Busch is a friendly, familiar face in downtown Timmins. His business, Busch Jewelers, has been a fixture in the city for more than half a century.
Recently, Busch was honoured by the Gillams Fire Department in Newfoundland for his ongoing support, thanks largely to a long-time friend.
“This gentleman, Al Whalen, hand delivered this certificate of appreciation to me,” he said. “I’ve known Al since the ‘70s. He worked up here in the mine. He was looking after one of my former neighbours, who has now passed on... and we became close friends.”
Busch’s good friend moved to Newfoundland and now works for the Gillams Fire Department.
“I decided to start supporting the fire department that he works for,” he said. “He is the training officer for the fire department.”
Over the years, Busch has donated more than $4,000 to the department.
“I also sell firemen’s hats here. So I sent them enough hats for everyone in the department. They were just overjoyed,” he said. “The correspondence kept growing until the department decided, ‘Let’s give Helmut something in recognition for what he’s been doing for literally all of us.’”
Whalen visited Timmins recently to help raise funds for a grandchild battling cancer.
“I’m a parent myself,” Busch said. “My heart really goes out to him and his family.”
It was a big surprise when his old friend came into the store and presented Busch with a certificate of appreciation and a 10-year service pin, which makes him an honorary member of the fire department.
“So when he came in with that, it caught me off guard,” Busch said. “When you have good friends, you hang on to them. A little support goes a long way. We keep in contact by phone.”
But that is not the end of the appreciation being shown by the Gillams Fire Department.
“The chief of the fire department, he said ‘who’s this guy Helmut?’” Busch explained. “He said to his men, ‘why didn’t you guys tell me? I have something to deliver to him too.’ I asked Al. He said a full uniform is coming.”
Busch feels humbled by the honours being bestowed upon him by the fire department.
“It just goes to show, the little things you do get appreciated,” he said. “This is still a little town, even though we call ourselves a city. It’s gratifying.
“I’ve been in this city since 1962 and know a lot of people. No matter where I go, someone comes up and shakes my hand because they’ve seen this on the Internet.”
“I keep saying the same thing. When I get the call, they (the fire department) will have saved a lot. Everyone gets a chuckle out of it.
Busch has owned the business since 1962. He has no regrets about his chosen career. There isn’t anywhere else he would have rather been.
“I started with my Dad, who retired in 1972. I’ve been on my own ever since,” he said. “I enjoy the people, that is the foremost thing.
“When I retired, I got so bored that I had to go back to work, even part time.”
His ventures with the Gillams Fire Department have created cherished memories.
“This really surprised me,” Busch said. “Al said he will come back this fall and he’ll deliver. I’m looking forward to it.
“When you have a friend from Newfoundland, you have a friend for life. They work all over Canada ... they definitely have the work ethic.”
Busch sums up the whole story with one line, while beaming his familiar smile.
“This is what makes life so interesting.”
Busch Jewelers is located at 148 Third Ave. in downtown Timmins.