Retired Houston Fire Department Senior Captain Receives Notes from National Brethren

HOUSTON, TX—When Houston resident Judy Klenzing looked to honor her grandfather, Rufus Smith, she simply asked firefighters to share their stories with him.
Mr. Smith, a resident of the extended care neighborhood of Eagle’s Trace retirement community, retired as a Senior Captain in the Houston Fire Department in 1971.
“His love has always been helping those in need and the brotherhood of firefighters.  He still appreciates those bonds,” said Mrs. Klenzing.  “Reading new stories from active duty firefighters makes his day.”
Houston-area fire departments sent Mr. Smith letters last year.  Just before Christmas, Mrs. Klenzing broadened her focus.  She contacted Wish of a Lifetime, a Denver-based organization whose core program aims to make wishes come true for seniors across the United States.
The group posted a story about Mr. Smith on its website, and the letters and cards began to roll in.  His first batch consisted of fifty-three (53) pieces of mail, bringing a big smile on the retired firefighter’s face.
“It’s really neat to see how Mr. Smith inspires other residents and our medical care professionals,” stated Michael Friedel, Director of Extended Care at Eagle’s Trace.  “His lifetime of service is exceptional.”
Service is synonymous with his life.  Mr. Smith served his country in the United States Army as a paratrooper during World War II.  Upon his return to hometown Mobile, Alabama, he married the love of his life.  The couple moved to the Lone Star State, where he attended the Houston Fire Academy.  
He rose through the ranks as firefighter, handling emergency calls and becoming a pipe man and driver, before his eventual promotions to Captain and Senior Captain.  He worked at Stations #19, 44 & 7.
Upon retirement, Mr. Smith served as a Deacon at the Lindale Assembly of God Church in Houston.  In his ministry, he visited many patients in local hospitals, but never forgot the active duty firefighters.
“We’d often jump in the car with my grandmother and visit the firefighters of Station #7, trading stories.  My grandfather relished those moments, and that’s why it’s so encouraging to see firefighters from across the nation communicating with him now.  A simple wish brightens his day, and we are so grateful,” stated Mrs. Klenzing.
Firefighters wishing to write to Mr. Smith may do so by sending letters & notes to:
ATTN: Rufus S., Wish of a Lifetime, 110 16th Street, Suite 406, Denver, CO 80202.
About Eagle’s Trace:  Eagle’s Trace is one of eighteen continuing care retirement communities managed by Erickson Living.  Located in Houston, Texas, the scenic 70-acre campus is home to more than 650 residents.  Eagle’s Trace is the ideal greater Houston retirement destination offering a true sense of community, convenience beyond compare and a sensible financial structure.