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Son of Rhinelander native killed on Christmas Eve remembers his dad's legacy

The Fletcher family was spending Christmas Eve at their cabin in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Police say that's when Nicholas Millard shot and killed Tom Fletcher. Also shot was Tom's son, Austin.

Now Austin is speaking out about his father’s legacy.

Rhinelander native Tom Fletcher was known as "Superman" to his family.

"My dad was the literally the toughest man in the world," Austin said. "He once fell from a deer stand, broke his neck, walked two miles back to the cabin before he got help."

Tom moved to the Wausau area after marrying his wife, Jeni. They stayed in the area for decades as they raised their family.

For the man Austin knew as "Superman," no task was too big.

"He would know so much about one thing and would perfect the task that required those skills," Austin said.

That work ethic spilled over into his love of sports, and the support he gave to Austin as he played hockey at D.C. Everest Senior High School in Weston.

After Austin's graduation from high school, Tom and Jeni journeyed north.

Austin said it was his dad's dream to always be in nature, and the cabin in the U.P. offered a refuge.

"No matter where I went in life, I always knew I would have a place to go to get a release from all of the stuff that I was going through," Austin said. "That was our cabin. Now, I don’t have that."

He said he'll honor his father by trying to be the man he was.

"His ability to make friends, he had so many. He was a conversationalist, genuinely the hardest working man in the world.. someone who never complained and somebody who made an impact on more lives than I will ever dream of," said Austin.

"People always tell me that when they see me, they see my dad, but I can never compare to him," Austin said. "He was the man that I will try to be one day. I was going to give it all back to him one day."

Austin said he's healing after being shot in the chest.

Funeral services for Tom will be Friday in Rhinelander.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Millard is facing multiple felony charges in Tom Fletcher's shooting death, including first-degree intentional homicide.

His next court hearing is Jan. 17, in Gogebic County Court.

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