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|Falkenheiner: Parish loses longtime leader|
Longtime Concordia Parish Police Jury member and president Fred Falkenheiner lost a long battle with cancer, passing away Tuesday at the age of 69.
Falkenheiner, who was named Vidalian of Year in 2005, served on the Concordia Parish Police Jury for 30 years, 12 as its president, until December 1999, when he decided not to run again due to health reasons. Falkenheiner was diagnosed with cancer in 1997.
The funeral will be held Thursday, Sept. 25 at 2 p.m. at Vidalia United Methodist Church, with visitation slated for noon at the church. Arrangements are under the direction of Laird Funeral Home.
Falkenheiner, a veteran of the armed forces, served the community as a member of the Lions Club and Kiwanis and was a volunteer with the American Cancer Society and the March of Dimes. He worked for Louisiana Central Bank, now Delta Bank, from 1981 until his retirement in 2003.
"Fred was absolutely the most courageous and most unselfish person I have ever met," said Delta Bank President Cliff Merritt. "When I took over as president of the bank, Fred had already had surgery, but the very first time he ever talked to me it was not about what happened to him, but he wanted to know about me. I never once heard him complain or say he wished this wasn't happening to him. There was a lot of moxie in that man. He lived in Vidalia and worked in Ferriday and loved both communities. He gave so much to our children. He was an example of what someone ought to be in our community. He gave more than he ever got."
Police Juror Randy Temple said Falkenheiner had a unique way of dealing with jury members and his constituents.
"He had a calming effect in the way he conducted meetings that few politicians have," Temple said. "He had a way of making people feel comfortable even in hearing something they didn't want to hear. He was always on the taxpayer's side and looked out for their best interests. He was a gentleman and a very honorable person."
Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said Falkenheiner worked closely with him on several city projects, including as a member of the Riverfront Committee.
"Fred had a tremendous influence on the city of Vidalia," Copeland said. "He will be sorely missed. He battled cancer for a while, but he never complained."
Juror Carey Cook worked alongside Falkenheiner for about 15 years.
"Fred was very dedicated toward the parish and worked hard," Cook said.
Riverland Medical Center administrator Vernon Stevens worked with Falkenheiner with the summer baseball program, including when Vidalia hosted the Dixie Seniors State Tournament at the Vidalia Adult Baseball Park.
"Every Sunday I would see Fred out there with a fork and spoon pulling Johnson grass out of the field," Stevens said. "One of the reasons that park is as good as it is is because of all the time and work he put into it. He was a big part of putting up the lights and the fence and made a lot of improvements. He poured himself into that field and that program. Fred was a loyal servant of the parish for a long time."
Falkenheiner graduated from LSU. He was a two-year letterman on the Tiger baseball team.
Falkenheiner is survived by his wife, Phyllis; three children, Philip, Lee and Ellyn, and several grandchildren.
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