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The Mabank Fire Department lost a beloved member of its department and clown crew, Mat Ewaskiw, who unexpectedly passed away Sept. 19 peacefully at home. According to MFD Assistant Chief Kyle McAfee, Ewaskiw enjoyed working with the children and was the reason for the clown program's success. He was also very committed to the fire prevention program.

In a moving tribute, McAfee stated: “The Higbee notch is a mark or cut in the couplings of a fire hose that helps firefighters rapidly connect two hoses together. It's an essential guide in the fire operations. Mat's clown name was Higbee and what a perfect name. Mat was a perfect guide in making things connect and making it work. Mat and I started the clown program back in 2005, and if it weren't for his bright ideas, fun, crazy sense of humor, and going along with whatever was thrown towards us, it wouldn't have been so successful. Running through all the memories and photos of the fun times in my life as a clown or fire service, Mat was there. I bet momma Ewaskiw is so happy to see you, and I'm sure she was waiting there all dressed up all pretty with all her jewelry on. You will always be my Higbee in life, and couldn't thank you more for the fun ride over the past 20 years. I'm very grateful for all the times and miles we had together. You can rest easy, my friend; we will take it from here. Love you, bud!” Ewaskiw had been a firefighter and police officer, among other things, and was a husband, father and friend.

To alleviate some of the financial burden for his family, a fundraiser has been set up in his honor. Donations can be made online at:

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