COPPERAS COVE —People silently and steadfastly holding American flags ringed the entrance to Holy Family Catholic Church in Copperas Cove on Monday morning in honor of Frank Seffrood, a U.S. Army veteran who became a city leader.
Seffrood died of cancer Dec. 28 at the age of 79.
Nine members of the Central Texas Patriot Guard Riders, a nonprofit organization invited by the family to attend, stood solemnly outside of the church and later at Central Texas Veterans Cemetery in Killeen, where the pavilion was dominated by the red, white and blue.
“We’re here to honor a fellow veteran who served our country,” said Gary Blackburn, senior ride captain with the organization. “We stand for him one more time to honor his service.”
Holy Family Catholic Church in Cove was filled with several hundred people, including family members, friends and residents, for the service Monday morning. The funeral Mass, full of song and prayer, was followed by his burial with full military honors.
Honors for a veteran
A distant rumble of Fort Hood’s helicopters seemed to honor the former pilot who earned a Bronze Star for heroic service in Vietnam. He served in the Army for 23 years, retiring in 1979 as a chief warrant officer 2.
Seffrood served two combat tours as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and was known for his commitment to his country and to the city.
Many veterans and military members joined the family at the graveside ceremony at the Central Texas Veterans Cemetery.
“I met him on a few occasions, especially at Operation Stand Down (events), which he supported,” said Army Lt. Col. Chris Courtland. “He was a genuine gentleman, slow to anger and quick with a smile.”
Under the pavilion, the coffin was draped with the American flag and flanked with honor guards from Cove’s police and fire departments.
Everyone stood, civilians’ hands on their hearts and veterans saluting at attention, as eight soldiers honored their comrade with three rifle volleys followed by the heart-wrenching bugle call, Taps.
The Wisconsin native leaves behind his wife of 55 years, Rita, three children and three grandchildren. Rita Seffrood watched the flag being folded with her hand over her mouth, and received the flag and the soldier’s salute with a quiet strength.
Remembering a friend
In December, Seffrood was elected to serve a second term as mayor. He served the city as a city councilman for more than 6 years before being elected mayor in 2015.
He visited city hall every day during his tenure.
“He always said, ‘Yes,’” said Kevin Keller, public information officer for the city of Copperas Cove. Keller said he knew Seffrood for 12 years. “Anytime someone would call on him to be at an event, he would say, ‘I’ll be there,’ even if he had two other events scheduled. Whether it was the Polar Bear Plunge or a ceremony, he just managed to fit it in.”
Keller said Seffrood was a “very active mayor.”
“He was always interacting with city employees and citizens,” he said. “He wasn’t just the mayor, he was our friend and we’re going to miss him.”