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Published: Sunday, 4/24/2005

Parole officer honored for valor

Jodi J. Cheney, 48, an Ohio parole officer for a quarter century who was honored for her valor in helping rescue a kidnapped child, died Friday in Toledo Hospital from complications of a brain aneurysm suffered Wednesday.

Mrs. Cheney of Sylvania Township was a senior parole officer the last decade for the Lima region of the Ohio Adult Parole Authority, which includes much of northwest and west central Ohio. She had administrative and casework duties throughout the region, often working in Lucas, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Paulding, Putnam, and Williams counties.

"She had numerous letters of appreciation from judges in the counties she worked in," her husband, Ted, said. "She was well-known and respected and very diligent in her work. She was strict. She didn't want anybody to get away with anything. But she was fair."

She oversaw convicts - most often sex offenders - after their release from prison to make sure they followed the conditions of their paroles. She was a liaison with the Volunteers of America halfway house, where parolees go for a time before being allowed home. She made sure parolees received the treatment they needed if they had substance abuse or mental problems.

She was the victims' coordinator for the region, often working with the victims of the parolees she oversaw.

"She also was interested in making sure the victims were protected," her husband said.

Mrs. Cheney received a Gold Star for Valor from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in 2003. A parolee had locked a child with him in his apartment and would not come out.

"She had to go in there and get the child and subdue the guy with a couple of officers," her husband said. "They handled the situation well."

She won regional employee of the month awards twice and was a division employee of the month in 2003.

Mrs. Cheney grew up in Sylvania, was a graduate of Notre Dame Academy, and received a bachelor's degree in criminology from the University of Toledo.

She was a case worker in the Lucas County Adult Probation Department before she was hired by the state.

"She's always been in social work and trying to help other people and community service," her husband said. "She was just drawn to that."

She knew it was work that had to be done, her sister Sharon Christen said.

"She was kind of restless as a teenager," her sister said. "But once she found herself, she really found herself."

The support of family helped her through the stresses of work.

"She was the happiest when she was holding babies," her husband said. "That's when she unwound. She believed in the closeness of family."

She collected teddy bears and models of lighthouses and liked rabbits and dogs.

"That was her sanity," her sister said. In contrast to her work, her family and pastimes were "what life was really about," her sister said.

To unwind, Mrs. Cheney and her husband liked summer visits to the Atlantic shore, particularly Bethany Beach and Rehoboth Beach in Delaware.

Surviving are her husband, Ted Cheney, whom she married Oct. 30, 1981; sons, John Carl and Michael Raymond Cheney; daughter, Kelly Cheney; brother, Jim Westerman, and sisters, Judy Meyers and Sharon Christen.

The body will be in the Reeb Funeral Home after 4 p.m. today, with a Scripture service at 7:30 tonight in the mortuary. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in Little Flower Church, of which she was a member.



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