I can still remember the first time I met Steve Hoeppner. Entering the bay of the Farmersville Volunteer Fire Department, he was hanging out with some of the other firefighters. I believe, if memory serves me right, that we were cooking hamburgers on what was known as a “training meeting.” Later that night, we worked (ok they worked, I took photos) on some search and rescue techniques for structure fires.

My best memories of Steve are just of him being a friend and a brother, along with cracking jokes. As a longtime, adopted member of the Farmersville VFD, I was taken in as family. I spent lots of hours photographing training, family events, fundraising, actual scenes such as fires and wrecks and unfortunately, even funerals.

Once Steve joined the department he was always just there. Needed something? He offered it, without hesitation. He was part of the family.

His wife and kids became part of the family too and his wife, Lynn, was always willing to give me quality hugs. Hugs I miss and would gladly return.

In the world of firefighting, especially as a volunteer, there are tons of tasks that are required that honestly have very little to do with firefighting.

Fundraising, meetings, medical calls ... the list is endless. There are those who are dedicated firefighters, with a capital F, when it comes to fighting fires. Then there are those who are dedicated to the brotherhood, to the department, doing whatever needs to be done. Steve was the latter.

Unfortunately, Steve lost his battle with cancer this week passing away Oct. 15.

Up until four days ago he was still helping the department and running medical calls. Even though I have been gone from Farmersville for a year, I still miss my department, my brothers and sisters, and my family.

As the photographer for both the department and the newspaper, I had finally broken down several years back and purchased my own Canon Rebel camera.

It was adequate and to be honest I had shot some pretty impressive fire photos over the years, but it needed an upgrade.

Christmas before last, the department got together and decided to purchase me a Canon D60 camera from another local fire photographer.

I was so blown away. I knew I was loved, but had no idea of the depth of their love until that present. I found out this week that Steve was one of the main contributors of the gift stating, “She does so much for us that she deserves it.”

My friend, you have done so much for your community that you can never be repaid. Rest in peace, my brother. We have it from here.

Wyndi Veigel is the editor for The Marshall News Messenger. She wants to hear your questions, story ideas or concerns at 903-927-5962 or via email at wveigel@marshallnewsmessenger.com.