A community in Texas is looking to share the tragic story of a homeless veteran and truck driver who perished in last month’s ice storms as a way to encourage themselves and others to “do better.”
Truck driver and military veteran Robert Wack was originally from the midwest; but when his rig broke down in Mexia, Texas years ago, he was out of options, so he stayed, capturing the hearts of Mexia’s residents.
Residents of Mexia say that members of their community worked to help the 81-year-old homeless man for years, but during the state’s recent ice storm, he fell through the cracks with fatal results. As the snow, ice, and subzero temperatures plagued the state, Wack froze to death in the cab of his truck with nowhere else to go.
Once the weather began to improve, citizens called police for a welfare check for Wack, but it was already too late. Devastated by the loss and apparent shortcomings of the system, the town is now looking to share Wack’s story in hopes it will inspire others, and even themselves, to do better by our country’s veterans.
“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 to ABC 25 News.
“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, a fellow veteran who is active with Veteran Partners of Texas located in Mexia, that aims to help the veterans who have fallen through the cracks of other support organizations.
“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,” Robert continued.
“I found out a week ago today, that Bob had passed away…. I dropped by Bob’s [truck] on a number of occasions, bringing him food, groceries, even pizza… He was 81. In his final years, Bob went unnoticed by many but not today,” said Sunday Crider, an organizer of a memorial for Bob.
“His story has been told and he will be remembered,” she said.
“It [the memorial] 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.
“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.
“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.”
Robert’s children have since been located in Missouri, where his ashes will be laid to rest.