It was not a day of sadness in Ennis on Thursday but one of thanks for the life of a man who committed his life to serving the public and putting the needs of others before his own.

Firefighters from around the area gathered at Tabernacle Baptist Church to remember one of their own, Ennis volunteer fire Lt. Jodie Harbert Jr., who passed away Feb. 10.

Harbert served as a volunteer firefighter for 63 years, bringing his positive attitude and willingness to the job each day.

Opening up the service with a prayer was the Rev. M.P. Parish.

“We thank you for the sharing of this life that you so graciously shared with us. Now, Lord, we come leaning and depending on you right now, now that you have seen fit to summon him from out of our midst. There may be some that are feeling the void. We lift them up to you right now,” Parish said.

“ … We ask for your guidance from this day forward to touch each and every one. Thank you for the contribution that was made by this life to this city and this society. Let those follow the path and the example and be just as committed as this soul.”

Speaking on behalf of the city of Ennis was fire marshal Buddy Markham, who said Harbert was the type of person who cared for everyone.

“Jodie did not lose his life in service to others, rather he lived his life in service to others, more than 63 years of service,” Markham said. “Whether you knew Jodie or not, he earned the right to be your friend. You were important to him and he cared for you. He cared enough to show the new guy how to operate the pumps on the engines. He cared enough to radio the driver and say there was a closer hydrant.

“Jodie didn’t begrudge his service to you or me. He gave it gladly as a volunteer. Truly his reward was giving you and me his life and service. What a legacy to leave,” Markham said. “All of us that knew Jodie believed in him and he was always there for us. Jodie was a pillar of strength and faith in this community, a family man that was admired and looked up to. He was a man known for his kindness, his sense of optimism and his sense of humor. …

“We honor him for his contributions,” Markham said. “Jodie served the city of Ennis and he served us all with great distinction. Jodie Harbert is a fireman.”

Kenny Ray Isom, who served with Harbert as a volunteer firefighter for the past 41 years, also spoke at the funeral service.

“For those of us here today and the future generations that will follow we will always be indebted to Jodie for his 60-plus years of lifelong, above the call of duty, actions. Those actions were a labor of love. For some people he was close to being a second father,” Isom said.

“Jodie’s personal legacy will always be that he served his fellow man just like these brave firefighters here today,” Isom said. “Jodie’s outstanding reputation will live forever. It is an honor and a privilege that God allowed me to work side by side with Jodie along with many of the past and present firefighters you see here today. Thank you for helping me for being there when I needed you and I know that the citizens want to thank you also. I hope that you will always have the same compassion that for serving your fellow man that we saw from Jodie Harbert Jr. ”

Harbert’s son, Jodie Harbert, III thanked everyone for the support and caring, saying that all should remember in their hearts that his father had loved and cared for each of them.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1458.