It takes a giving person to stand out in the wind, rain and snow to be a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, but that’s just the type of person Derrick Fudge was.
While some volunteers are satisfied with doing the bare minimum, Salvation Army staff called Fudge a champion.
“If you weren’t smiling, he wanted you to smile. He wasn’t OK with you frowning at him,” said Ryan Ray, Salvation Army of Springfield development director. “He clearly was ringing a bell for something greater. You can’t do what he did so faithfully without having a greater purpose.”
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Fudge, 57, was one of nine people killed when a gunman opened fire in the Oregon District in Dayton on Sunday.
Fudge was there with his son and a large group of others who were out to enjoy the night and their time together.
Fudge’s son, Dion Green, believes his father saved his life. The two were standing inches away from each other, and the bullet could’ve easily hit Green if his father had not been there.
His father died in his arms that night.
Green told the News-Sun his father was a cornhole player, a fisherman, good father and a good grandfather.
Ray said it was hard to come to terms with the news. He said the Salvation Army lost a friend that night.
“It became real personal for us at the Salvation Army, real quick,” Ray said.
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An announcement of Fudge’s death on the Salvation Army’s Facebook page spurred dozens of comments from people who said Fudge had a positive influence on their lives.
One person wrote Fudge helped him on his path to recovery.
Another said they were going to dedicate their time to serve at the Springfield Soup Kitchen in honor of Fudge.
“God took another of his warriors home,” wrote another man. “Thank you for dedication to the children of the community.”
Ray said two of Fudge’s family members also came into the Salvation Army to make a cash donation in Fudge’s honor.
“If that doesn’t pay tribute to who he was and his character and his heart, I don’t know what does,” Ray said.
Funeral arrangements for Fudge weren’t immediately available.