Truman mourns loss of ‘Sarge’

TRUMAN – The ringing of a bell would summon Sarge Firchau from his shop when a customer pulled up, and he would drop what he was doing to fill up a gas tank or check a vehicle’s oil, always with a smile on his face.

Truman lost a fixture of the community last week with the passing of Eugene “Sarge” Firchau.

Firchau, 74, died Friday, less than a week after learning he had cancer.

“Truman won’t be the same without him,” said Mayor Lynn Brownlee.

Firchau was known as the town’s mechanic, having owned the Phillips 66 station. He later ran Sarge’s Service and Truman Flowers and Gifts with his wife, Jan.

The small town service Firchau excelled in leaves many in the town with fond stories to tell.

“If you had a problem, you just took it to Sarge,” Brownlee said. “You didn’t need an estimate or a second opinion. You knew you would be treated fair.”

Jake Ebert remembers a high school friend with a stubborn check-engine light. The engine problem was fixed, but it would have cost him a lot to get the light to turn off.

“We went to pick up the car and Sarge said, ‘There, I fixed it for you.'” Ebert said. “We got in and there was black tape over the light.”

The Firchaus moved to Truman in 1965. In the 48 years since, the couple immersed themselves in the community.

Firchau served on Truman Public Utilities for a long, long time, according to City Clerk Monte Rohman, as well as serving at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School and coaching Little League.

His winter coat even became a fixture in town. Ebert said Firchau would move snow several times a day after a snowstorm as he cleared his businesses parking lot, which would then be filled in by plows, and he would clear again. With so much wear, his red coat began to fade to pink.

“I am going to miss that pink coat,” said Kirsten Bressler.

Bressler collected Phillips 66 antiques for Firchau, as he and his wife had recently begun antiquing, a hobby Bressler shares.

“He embodied small town living,” Brownlee said. “Someone said he was an unsung hero. I think that is a great description.”

Funeral services will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Truman. Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. today at Zaharia Family Funeral and Cremation Service in Truman, and at the church one hour prior to the funeral.