Hundreds of people gathered at New Life Fellowship Church in Longview last Saturday afternoon to pay their respects and to say a final goodbye to Wahkiakum County Sheriff Jon Dearmore.
Among those attending were law enforcement officers and first responders from all over the region who stood at attention with Wahkiakum County deputies and saluted while family members were escorted into the church. A local color guard opened the service by presenting the flags of the United States and Washington State on a stage that was decorated with photographs and momentos of Jon’s life.
A slide show displayed photos and memories of Jon - from his youth to his days as an officer – and all of the things that meant the most to him, including his wedding to his wife Lori, his daughter Kaelee, his Harley Davidson, his dog Digger, and his friends.
Undersheriff Mark Howie paid an emotional tribute to his friend and co-worker, stating that Jon’s “heart had room for everyone” and describing him as “the kind of guy I would pick up and move to come work for.”
Jon’s wife, Lori, and his daughter, Kaelee, stood side by side at the podium and spoke of their love for Jon and his larger-than-life personality.
“My dad was a great man who had the biggest heart in the biggest, badass body,” said Kaelee, “My dad was my best friend, is my best friend, and will continue to be my best friend.”
Lori spoke softly, saying of their 25 year marriage that “he brought more joy to my life than he probably ever realized.”
As the service drew to a close, Howie and Kevin Allais, a sergeant with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and member of the Behind the Badge Foundation, presented Lori with a flag, and Pastor Richard Cary of the Assembly of God Church of Naselle recounted his own personal relationship with Jon.
The audience enjoyed a light moment as he described a ride-along with Jon that resulted in the two of them responding to a report of cows loose in Grays River. Despite the nature of that particular call, Cary reminded those attending that law enforcement officers have pressures that they don’t always share with others.
“If anyone knows how hard life is, it’s these guys,” Cary said, “they bear a lot.”