Firefighter Randy M. Hiti, age 57, of the Rice Lake Township Volunteer Fire Department died while preparing to respond to an EMS call on February 18, 2015.
Matt Frantz, the second of four boys, was born June 8, 1971, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Later, his family moved back to Duluth, where he remained until his death.
As a child, Matt would listen to the stories his grandfather would tell about his career as a firefighter for the Air National Guard and later a founding member and chief of the Rice Lake Volunteer Fire Department. It was at a young age that he developed a passion for firefighting and knew that this was what he truly wanted to do in life.
Matt served in the U.S. Army from 1991 to 1993, during which time he served abroad in Korea. He later served as a reservist in the Army National Guard, achieving the rank of sergeant and retiring in 1999.
Matt attended Lake Superior College School of Fire Technology and Administration and began working for UPS as a local sorter, later becoming a full-time delivery driver.
We met in early 1995, and in August of 1998 we were married. In 1999, he adopted our oldest daughter and we had our second daughter. He was so proud of his girls and loved spending time with them.
We moved to Rice Lake Township in 2000, and Matt joined the volunteer fire department soon after. In 2009, Matt was elected chief and held the position up until the time of his death.
He had a deep passion for this particular organization and cause, and all who knew him could see it. Some of his closest and dearest friendships were formed with the men and women he fought fires with. He was a dedicated chief and wanted every member to feel that they were a part of something special, part of a family.
Matt was a do-it-yourselfer and was proud of the home he built for us. If he didn’t know how to do something he played around with it until he succeeded. He loved fishing, hunting, and camping and absolutely loved to do these things with his family, especially our daughters.
Since the girls were little, we took our annual family trip to Applefest in Bayfield, Wisconsin. This was one of his favorite things to do. You could always tell when something was coming up that he loved to do; he would talk about it endlessly for weeks before. Get him around a campfire, and you’d be up all night!
These are just a few of the things that will be difficult to continue without him, but we will, because we know that he will be with us no matter what.