My daddy thought Effingham County, specifically Springfield, was God’s country.Kristen Dehoff, daughter of Most Fabulous Firefighter Matt Kicklighter
SPRINGFIELD — Fun and frivolity briefly stepped aside for a deeply touching moment during June 18’s 2019 Effingham Living Most Fabulous awards ceremony.
The revelation that Matt Kicklighter was dubbed the Most Fabulous Firefighter drew a standing ovation from the packed house at The Local on Laurel. Kicklighter, an Effingham County fire battalion chief, died unexpectedly at the age of 45 while attending a fire and rescue conference in Daytona Beach, Fla.
“We’ve been extremely honored by everything surrounding this,” said Kristin Dehoff, one of Kicklighter’s three daughters.
Dehoff received the award with her sister, Amber Scarborough. Kicklighter’s other daughter, Keri Ortiz, was unable to attend
“We are extremely proud of him,” Dehoff said. “My daddy thought Effingham County, specifically Springfield, was God’s country. He really loved it.”
Judging from the opinion of Effingham Living readers and the audience at the awards ceremony, Effingham County loved Kicklighter, too.
“I knew he was nominated but I was real surprised that he won,” Dehoff said. “I was happily surprised. It was very nice.”
Effingham County Fire Chief Clint Hodges said his department misses Kicklighter greatly.
“Matt was an absolutely awesome guy,” he said. “He had a sense of humor like nothing like I’ve ever really experienced before. He was so well known and so well liked.
“We often referred to him as ‘the mayor’ because he always seemed to know what was going on.”
Hodges added, “He was a mentor and a friend to just about everybody. His passing leaves a hole that I don’t think will every truly be filled.”