Community steps up to help retired Merchant Marine

Community steps up to help retired Merchant Marine

A retired Merchant Marine is getting a big hand up from his community.

It was a chance encounter that started a chain reaction.

After decades of service as a Merchant Marine, Mr. Gilbert Pfisterer had a world of experience under his belt.

"I was in the second World War. I was the Korean War. I was in the Vietnam War," said Pfisterer.

Years after he retired, he moved into a trailer in Picayune, Mississippi and he's been there in deteriorating conditions for more than a dozen years.

"This place is falling apart. It's about like me. It's got too many miles on it," joked Pfisterer.

However, it seems like that's all about to change, all thanks to a fateful encounter.

In August, Matt Ladner just happened to notice Mr. Gilbert stranded in town with car troubles.

He almost passed by, but something told him to turn around.

"Some people call it chance. I believe it's divine providence in some way. For everything to happen the way it did. This thing's way beyond myself, way beyond Mr. Gilbert," said Ladner.

He helped Mr. Gilbert with his car issues and made sure he made it home. That's when he saw how Mr. Gilbert had been living. He reached out to the community on Facebook, and the community responded in a big way.

Ladner saw the response as an opportunity to really help. "What if we do something better. With all this attention, why don't we step it up a notch and find him somewhere better to live?" said Ladner.

That's where Habitat for Humanity Bay Waveland stepped in. A Habitat house nearby had just become available. After a renovation, Ladner said the goal is try to move Mr. Gilbert in by Christmas.

The next funding hurdle to overcome is $5000 in materials.

"You know, it almost restores my faith in humanity. I guess there are a few good people left in the world," said Pfisterer.

To find out more about how you can help Mr. Gilbert, or if you just want to follow the progress, click this link:

If you'd like to make a donation, or find out more about Habitat for Humanity Bay Waveland, please visit or send an email to

Copyright 2017 WLOX. All rights reserved.