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Larry Hulsman, who for 40 years worked in the family trucking business in Santa Rosa, the last 17 years as president, died Sept. 1 at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital of emphysema. He was 69.

Born Oct. 17, 1943, in Santa Rosa, Lawrence B. Hulsman was one of five children born to Mary and Lawrence Hulsman Sr.

He attended Montgomery High School, Santa Rosa Junior College and San Jose State University where he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. After graduation, Hulsman took a job in service management at a major South Bay car dealership before eventually returning to Santa Rosa to work with the family business, Hulsman Transportation Co. The business was launched in 1932 by Hulsman's father and uncle.

"It was a big company," Hulsman's brother Ray Hulsman, of Santa Rosa, said, noting the trucks hauled Grace Brothers beer and wine from around the region.

When the family shuttered the transportation business about 15 years ago, Hulsman continued to manage the land and rental agreements, his brother said.

The land, at Santa Rosa and Yolanda avenues, was a key property in developments proposed by both Home Depot and later Lowe's as a location for home improvement stores. Political opposition quashed both proposals.

Never one to travel much, Hulsman created a "really comfortable, colorful, tasteful home," said his companion of more than two decades, Debbie Wymer of Windsor.

"The first time I went to his house, he had cut flowers. He had houseplants that weren't dead," she recalled. "He was really a special, different person. I learned a lot from him."

The pair would often take trips to San Francisco for lunch or explore eateries in Sonoma County, she said.

When Wymer would take trips with friends, Hulsman was generous and curious about where she went and what she did, she said. And he would often try to surprise Wymer and her pals with gifts for their journey.

"He'd stash cookies in the car for all of us," she said. "When I was going to France with my friends, in the cookie bag (he hid) $300."

A man of habits and routines, Hulsman spent nearly every Saturday night at his brother Paul's with his other siblings and, sometimes, friends. Every Sunday, he and Wymer would return the favor and host the siblings for dinner.

"We were all born and raised here and we all came back," Ray Hulsman said. Any family squabbles are better quashed with close-knit get-togethers, he said.

"If you see each other all the time, you get through that," he said.

A lifelong fan of both the San Francisco Giants and the 49ers, Hulsman also was passionate about technology and gadgets. He always was up on the latest gear and would help others install, update and enjoy all manner of technological gizmos, his family said.

"He could be gruff and short with people, but he really had a heart of gold," Ray Hulsman said. "He'd do anything for everybody."

In addition to Wymer and Ray Hulsman, Larry Hulsman is survived by brothers Paul Hulsman of Santa Rosa and Jim Hulsman of Sammamish, Wash.; and sister Claire Hulsman of Windsor.

A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Sept. 28 at Calvary Catholic Church Chapel. Donations in Hulsman's name may be made to the American Cancer Society.

-- Kerry Benefield