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Published: Saturday, 9/6/2008

Sandusky County sheriff stressed dignity, respect

BY CHAUNCEY ALCORN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Widow Judy Gangwer follows her husband s casket out of Grace Lutheran Church in Fremont, en route to Oakwood Cemetery, where Sandusky County Sheriff David Gangwer was buried. Widow Judy Gangwer follows her husband s casket out of Grace Lutheran Church in Fremont, en route to Oakwood Cemetery, where Sandusky County Sheriff David Gangwer was buried.
JETTA FRASER / THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

FREMONT Sandusky County residents as well as dozens of law enforcement officers yesterday said goodbye to Sheriff David G. Gangwer.

Sheriff Gangwer, 66, who served in that post for 28 years, died Sunday after coming down with what was described as a sudden illness a few days earlier.

No cause of death has been released.

About 500 people filled Grace Lutheran Church for the sheriff s funeral.

Dozens more stood outside, while others lined city streets for miles watching the sheriff s funeral procession pass by. Some saluted; others waved American flags.

They were men and women, senior citizens and children, black and white, who all shared a mutual respect for the man who helped keep their community safe for so many years.

I came here out of love and respect, Gale Johnson of Fremont, said as she stood outside the church. He was a good sheriff very fair.

Wanda Jackson, also of Fremont, who was standing beside Ms. Johnson, added: He was full of laughter. He always had a smile on his face.

Some who barely knew the sheriff made it clear he was no ordinary man or run-of-the-mill cop.

I ve lived in Fremont almost all of my 53 years, Ken Schaeffer said while watching the funeral procession drive by. If every county had a sheriff like Dave Gangwer, let me tell you, Ohio would be in real good shape.

Bob Cornwell, executive director of the Buckeye State Sheriff s Association, told those attending the church service of Sheriff s Gangwer s dedication to his work, the lives he touched throughout his career, and the love he had for his family.

The sheriff never demanded a role of responsibility. He usually had it thrust upon him because of his demeanor, Mr. Cornwell said.

Sheriff David Gangwer, 66, died Sunday after coming down with what was described as a sudden illness a few days earlier. Sheriff David Gangwer, 66, died Sunday after coming down with what was described as a sudden illness a few days earlier.
WADSWORTH / BLADE Enlarge

Crawford County Sheriff Ronny J. Shawber, who was friends with Sheriff Gangwer, said, Dave and I had a lot of good times. He was a good sheriff, a proud Marine.

Those who didn t know him do not know what they missed.

Sandusky County interim Sheriff Bruce Hirt, who worked with Sheriff Gangwer since he joined the sheriff s office in 1972, said Sheriff Gangwer reached far above the call of duty in his work.

He always stressed treating the public with dignity and respect, treating everyone with the same dignity no matter what walk of life they came from, Sheriff Hirt said.

I always thought he d retire when he was 80 years old, with his gun and badge attached to his walker. Our loss is heaven s gain.

Fremont business owner Tom Keiser recalled how Sheriff Gangwer changed his life when he was a young man just out of high school who got into trouble.

Many people don t know this story because Dave promised to keep it quiet, he said.

The sheriff visited him in his jail cell and offered to be his probation officer. He said, You ve spent 14 days in this jail and you can see it s not for you.

Mr. Keiser said he was a C student in high school, but went on to study aeronautical engineering because of Mr. Gangwer.

Dave Gangwer taught me never ever attach your future potential to your past. He said, Let your past be your wisdom. I never forgot that, Mr. Keiser said.

At Oakwood Cemetery, the sheriff s wife of 46 years, Judy, was given the American flag that had covered her husband s coffin.

She hugged the flag and wept with dozens of others as a dispatcher called the sheriff s badge number over the radio for the final time.

7200 to Sandusky County unit number 7201, the dispatcher said. Sheriff David G. Gangwer has been called home for the last time.

Contact Chauncey Alcorn at:calcorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6168.



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