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"Largest Funeral in Indianapolis" - - by Rev. Weldon Bares

I love a story that Readers Digest told several years ago about a man named Herbert Wirth. He passed away, but nobody really noticed. The local minister prepared for a brief funeral service. The funeral home said that he had no family.

He had been a door-to-door salesperson of household items since 1944, after he lost his job at the age of 57. He sold inexpensive household wares.

Mr. Wirth was barely five feet tall. He walked the Northside streets of Indianapolis for six days a week, from 9 AM to 6 PM. He never owned a car or even took a break for lunch. He estimated that he had walked more than 50,000 miles as a street peddler.

He pretty much kept to himself. Occasionally, he did small favors for his neighbors, like raking their leaves or putting their newspapers at the front door.

As customers and acquaintances of Mr. Wirth read his obituary in the newspaper, each thought about this unassuming man. They shared stories about his many acts of kindness. Some people said, “He has nobody. Isn’t that sad? I think I will go to his funeral.”

Guess what happened? On a cold February morning, over a thousand people went to Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis for the funeral of Herbie Wirth. He would never have imagined how many people he had influenced over the years.

The largest funeral ever at Crown Hill Cemetery was not for a statesman or a movie star or a famous athlete. It was for Herbie Wirth.

The Bible affirms, “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.” (Romans 14:7) You never know what influence you might have on others.

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