MEXIA, TX — A homeless veteran was found dead in the small town of Mexia. The 81-year-old is suspected of freezing to death in the cab of his run-down truck, but the story doesn't end there. The community wants his story told so that no veteran dies alone.
In February, a winter storm unlike ever before hit Mexia hard. As the town moved into emergency mode, 81-year-old Robert Wack was in the cab of his 18 wheeler with no heat and no calls for help.
"It's incredibly sad and I do think a lot of the community tried to check in on him. It got away from us. The cold weather and with everything going on. He ended up passing in the cold," said First United Methodist Church Rev. Jennifer Pick.
When the storm subsided, police were asked to check on Bob.
"I found out a week ago today, that Bob had passed away. He was 81. In his final years, Bob went unnoticed by many but not today," said Sunday Crider, one of the organizers of a memorial for Bob. "His story has been told and he will be remembered," she said.
Strangers signed the memorial book for Bob at Blair-Stubbs Funeral Home in Mexia which held the service in its chapel. Empty pews filled up fast.
The community organized the service. Some had been trying to help Bob for years.
"It's always difficult when someone you've worked with has a tragic death like this. Veteran Partners stepped in in a lot of ways. Especially Glen Clark. We had gotten him into a motel at one time," said Joseph Robert.
Joe Rob is a veteran too and part of the non-profit Veteran Partners of Texas located in Mexia, which tries to pick up veterans that might fall through the gaps.
"A number of these people in his heart had become family. You always just hope and pray. What can we do better?" said Joe Rob.
"I dropped by Bob's place on a number of occasions, bringing him food, groceries, even pizza," said Sunday in the eulogy.
A town troubled that it tried so hard to give but didn't get the chance to this time.
"It says they really do care. And they want to pay tribute to a man that some of them knew and some didn't. No one is forgotten and everyone lives on in those that remember and hopefully, this will never happen again," said Rev. Pick.
"If you're a veteran and you're out there. Get a hold of us. We want to help. Give us a chance to help. We can't do everything but we don't say no to doing something," said Joe Rob.