Remembering 9/11: UConn Health Professor Emeritus and Red Cross Volunteer Larry Klobutcher Continues to Give Back

Klobutcher continues to make a difference volunteering with the Red Cross which in honor of 9/11 this September encourages everyone to take steps this month to make your home safer by testing or replacing your smoke alarms.

Larry Klobutcher, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Molecular Biology & Biophysics at UConn Health and American Red Cross volunteer.

Twenty-two years later September 11, 2001 continues to hold a sacred spot in the hearts of Americans. Planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, forever leaving memories of anguish, despair, and sorrow. Many can remember where they were and what they were doing when our country heard the tragic news.

Farmington’s Larry Klobutcher,  Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Molecular Biology and Biophysics at UConn Health and American Red Cross volunteer, was about to begin his class when some of his students learned of the World Trade Center plane crash.

“I initially thought this was very much a tragic accident, but simply an accidental crash, so we went ahead with the class,” Larry recalled. “By the time the class ended, things changed drastically. As the second tower of the World Trade Center was hit, the Pentagon attacked and the first tower collapsed – it seemed the world changed in an hour. It was hard to imagine the effect of these events on the building occupants, their families, and the many first responders, nor how our country would respond.”

For the 22nd anniversary of this tragic event, the Red Cross in Connecticut held a special smoke alarm installation event in Hartford, honoring the significance of the date in our nation’s history and making homes safer for residents.

Larry, who joined the mission in October 2019, teamed up with other Red Cross volunteers for the installation event. They understand how important it is for homes to have ample protection against fire.

The Red Cross encourages you to take steps this September to make your home safer. If you have a smoke alarm, test it regularly to ensure it works properly. If an alarm is over 10 years old, it should be replaced.

If you or someone you know is in need of a smoke alarm, find more information and make an appointment for the Red Cross teams to install one for free via its Connecticut Home Fire Campaign or call 1-877-287-3327 and choose option 1.

Klobutcher volunteering with the Red Cross.

This year’s Hartford event is significant because “there have been a large number of fires in Hartford over the past year, including a few resulting in injury and loss of life. I, and other Disaster Action Team members who respond to fires, know how they can significantly disrupt lives even when no one is harmed,” Larry explained. “We all prefer to install smoke alarms, which significantly reduce the risk of being harmed in a fire, than actually responding to fires. This event allows many homes to be made safer and spreads the word on fire safety.”

After retiring from UConn Health, Larry had extra time on his hands. He wanted to volunteer in community helping ways. Memories from his Illinois childhood, when the Red Cross rescued his family from a flood, helped steer him to join the mission. “Working with the Red Cross seemed like a good way of paying things back.”

This is not the only time the local Red Cross is involved in this type of preparedness event. The organization installs free smoke alarms and provides fire education year-round. However, “these large-scale install events are especially important because they target areas of high fire frequency or where loss of life has occurred,” Larry explained. “It is also nice to get a large number of workers for the Home Fire Campaign together, as it increases enthusiasm for the program and helps in team-building.”

In addition, “the 9/11 day is also a great time for this event, as it helps honor the many people who died that day, as well as provides a tribute to the many workers who risked their lives responding to this disaster.”

Larry continues to make a difference during his time with the Red Cross. Larry Berman, a fellow volunteer, praised his efforts with the North Central Connecticut Home Fire Campaign Team for the past several years, “he has literally helped hundreds of families go to bed safer at night!”