He retired in 1997 after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
It's a debilitating and heartbreaking disease that took my tall, proud father and left him without the use of his hand and sometimes one leg, and that was in the beginning.
It was hard on him because he was someone who would literally chase down crooks and run around with us in the yard or shoot hoops in the street, and suddenly he couldn't do it anymore.
He had trouble driving, and playing his bass wasn't possible anymore. It wasn't because anything happened to him, but because his body had betrayed him.
He turned to other activities then, trying to make up for the time he missed with us. Dad had missed several Christmases and school activities while working. It's the nature of the job. After he retired, he was a constant presence in our lives.
But it was also about that time that my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. She died a year later, in 1998. That was another blow to his resolve, but he buckled down and made sure we knew he'd be there for us.
My brother played basketball, one of Dad's favorite pastimes, and my father never missed a game. My sister was a cheerleader, and Dad was always there watching, ready to tell her she did a good job.
I was on the color guard and in marching band, and Dad was always there, ready and waiting with his pickup truck to help haul whatever we needed, wherever it needed to go. He couldn't lift or carry the items, but he could drive them there. He taught me how to drive, an experience I'll never forget.
We took care of him, too. My brother traveled with him by train to Chicago for treatment for his multiple sclerosis, and he taught me the complicated process of preparing his medications and giving them to him. And we all went fishing with him at one point or another.
His father Ralph died in 2000 after a bout with cancer. We didn't have Dad for too much longer.
The illness came on suddenly. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just before Christmas 2001. The doctors said he was too far gone for treatment and that we had maybe three months left.
He didn't make it three weeks. He died at home in January 2002. He was 48.
He memory lives on with us but also those he worked with as a deputy sheriff. Some of the guys he worked with at the sheriff's department have moved up, but a lot of them have moved on.
But he's still spoken of fondly at the sheriff's office and usually with a funny story or two, always followed with, "He sure was a good guy."
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.cr...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.