STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Fire gutted a Stone County mobile home Friday afternoon, leaving a well-known community man without a place to live.
Glennis "Pops" Rayburn has endured his fair share of tragedies. After losing his wife to cancer, being hurt on the job and now losing his home to a fire, the 75-year-old man is once again trying to bounce back.
But this time, the community is stepping in to help.
"Our main goal right now in the sheriff's department is to get Mr. Rayburn back in a home and set up so that he can start taking care of himself again," Phyllis Olds said.
Friends and former colleagues of Glennis Pops Rayburn are pulling together to help the man after fire gutted his Stone County home.
"Actually I saw the smoke and I started up there," said Sheriff Mike Farmer.
In 2004, Stone County Sheriff Mike Farmer re-hired Rayburn to work part-time. People at the sheriff's department say, over the years, Rayburn has become more like family. That's why they were shocked when they learned their longtime friend is now homeless.
"Oh my God, not Mr. Rayburn," Olds said. "Because I thought Mr. Rayburn is 75-years-old and he does not need to start all over again."
"He's got memories and stuff that's been there that he has collected his whole life," Sheriff Farmer said.
The fire happened Friday afternoon.
"I went in and I was going to fry me some french fries and undoubtedly I left my stove on," Rayburn said.
Rayburn said he left the stove on while he went to his garden and before he knew it, his home was on fire.
"I happened to look back and see the smoke coming from around the door," Rayburn said.
Charred remains are all that's left of the mobile home.
Now at 75, Glennis "Pops" Rayburn is trying to rebuild his life. But workers with the Stone County Sheriff's Department are reaching out to the community to make sure he won't have to do it alone.
"Mr. Rayburn is one of us, he's always been one of us and we are going to take care of him, somehow," said Olds.
A few people told me how in 2007, he got trapped under his own van when he was on work detail with a few prisoners. But instead of the prisoners using the opportunity to escape, they respected Mr. Rayburn so much that they picked him up and put him back in the van, drove him back to the sheriff's department so that someone else could take him to the hospital.
If you are interested in helping Mr. Rayburn, there is an account set up at the Bank of Wiggins. You can also call the Stone County Sheriff's Department at (601) 928-3191 for more information.
Two local restaurants, Wards and the Whistle Stop Cafe, are also accepting donations.