A Slidell man’s sudden passing on New Year’s Eve has left a strain and financial hardship on his family, and members of his community are ready to help.
Open Range Cowboy Church of North Texas will have a dinner and silent auction for Chris Waskom’s family Saturday with the help of the Slidell/Greenwood Fire Department and Masonic Lodge No. 779 of which Waskom, 41, was a member.
A barbecue dinner and “all the fixins” will be served from 4 to 7 p.m. for $10 a plate at the church, located at 7290 Hawkeye Road, in Krum. Tickets will be sold at the door and children ages 10 and younger eat free.
The father of six died Dec. 31 from the H1N1 strain of the flu, known as swine flu, according to the medical examiner’s office. He was the first reported flu-related death in Wise County for the season.
Waskom was very involved with the church his family has been attending for the past two years and that’s just one of the reasons church secretary Mandy Wingert said they stepped up to the plate.
“The reason we [the church, the Slidell/Greenwood Fire Department and Masonic Lodge] are doing the benefit — besides helping his family with the many expenses that came with his passing — is for the simple reason [that] Chris would have helped any one of us out at any time,” Wingert said during an e-mail interview Thursday.
Shortly after his passing, Earl Bengston, a pastor at the church, said Waskom’s father was a pastor and he grew up in the church for most of his life, but at some point stopped attending. One day, one of Waskom’s sons encouraged him to attend a service at the cowboy church, and the rest, Bengston said, is history.
Wingert said Waskom was being mentored to become the lay pastor over their arena team before his death.
The U.S. Army veteran and owner of Smalltown Plumbing was married to Lacy Waskom and left behind six children: Lizzy Waskom, 11, Maddi Waskom, 13, Chase Waskom, 19, Dustie Fennell, 13, Rusty Fennell, 11, and Rustan Fennell, 9.
A silent auction will be held at 7 p.m. following the dinner, organizers said. If people can’t make the event and would still like to assist the family, they can mail their donations to “The Chris Waskom Benefit Fund” Open Range Cowboy Church of North Texas, P.O. Box 36, Krum, TX 76249.
“He was a blessing to so many of us and loved very much,” Wingert said.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.