STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Family and friends gathered in McHenry Friday morning to remember 73-year-old Frederick "Fritz" Muffler, a dedicated family man and founding member of the McHenry Volunteer Fire Department.
They recalled his love, laughter and commitment to his community. Firefighters and first responders from throughout the area took time to pay tribute to a man they deeply admired and often depended on in the area.
"Father, we thank you for this gathering here today to pay respect for a man that made a big difference not only in our community, but an awful lot of our lives. Thank you for him," said Rev. Gene Daniels.
Fritz was a story teller; quick with a laugh or practical joke. He was larger than life, with a gruff voice, but a caring spirit.
"I could stand up here and use a lot of words to describe him. But knowing Fritz the way we all did, I think it's more fitting to tell it in story style," said Cathy Garner.
Longtime fire department colleague, Cathy Garner, recalled the time she called upon Fritz to help fix a broken tractor. She says he arrived shortly, along with his entire family.
"Because you see, that's how Fritz was. He taught and he led by example. You worked together, you prayed together, you played together," said Garner.
Family and friends shed tears during the service, but also shared laughter. Mark Parker recalled a time he and Fritz were dispatched to remove a snake from a woman's home.
"Trying to rake this snake up in this bucket.....he done agitated the snake so much, it bit him. And you cannot transfer what words were said after that," said Parker, the assistant fire chief in McHenry.
But with the laughs, a serious side: One man's dedication to making his community a safer place.
"There isn't enough thank you in Stone County to properly address all that this man has done for us," said Rev. Wayne Flurry, pastor of McHenry First Baptist Church.
A fire truck procession led Fritz past his beloved fire station one final time. At Sumrall Cemetery, fellow firefighters carried him to his final resting place.
Fritz, a 30 year employee of WLOX, responsible for maintaining the transmitter and tower in McHenry, will also be missed by his WLOX family.