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America has lost a good man

The reality of life and death has tracked my life for the last couple of years. During that time, 12 family members and friends have died. It hasn’t been easy.

I keep saying, “Enough, God!” But it hasn’t stopped.

It happened again last week. As I checked my emails late Wednesday night, I saw one from a regular listener to my radio program. She wanted me to know, in case I hadn’t heard, that Sheriff Larry Dever of Cochise County, Az., was dead. There was a single-vehicle rollover on a Forest Service dirt road south of Flagstaff.

No, I hadn’t heard.

As I read her words, I burst into angry tears.

Not again! Not him! No!

But it was – is – true. I got many messages from my listeners; they loved him, as I did.

Another wrote me: “Sheriff Dever was the best. People like that do not come along very often and they are precious.” He added he hopes for a full investigation of the death.

Sheriff Dever was driving his Chevy pickup early evening last Tuesday headed to a nearby camp to meet family for a hunting trip.

Another vehicle came upon Dever’s truck and found him in it, dead. The preliminary investigation showed the vehicle went off the road, rolled and came to a stop, upright.  Officials say there was no evidence of alcohol or whether he wore a seat belt. It will take a while for toxicological reports.

I can understand my listener’s request for a full investigation: a familiar road, early evening, no traffic and no visible reason for a 2008 truck to roll over and no health problems. I also wonder, because I know he had enemies because of his outspoken support of the law.

It’s ironic he died the week when the court ruled Arizona can enforce S.B.1070 and the same day the report critical of  “Fast & Furious” gun-running was released.

Larry Dever was one of those rare people – solid, loyal, tough, intelligent, patriotic, generous, caring. He was a family man who chose a profession where he could – as he wanted – help keep his people and his county, his state and his country safe.

He did that for 35 years, having joined the Cochise County Sheriff’s office as a deputy in 1976. Promotions to sergeant and major followed, and then he ran for and was elected sheriff in 1996. Dever was re-elected four times and was running unopposed for a fifth term in the current election cycle.

It’s a tough job, dealing with usual law enforcement but compounded by the fact that Cochise County has 83 miles of border with  Mexico and is one of Arizona’s hottest illegal immigration sites.

He dealt with the issue, being strong about border security but when a close friend, rancher Robert Krentz, was shot and killed on his own property by a suspected illegal alien, Dever became more vocal.

His department is handling that investigation; the crime is still unsolved, although there’s evidence the killer escaped across the border.

Dever criticized the government for not enforcing border security, spoke out against the Obama administration’s policies concerning border crime, illegal “rights,” the government sanctioned “Fast & Furious” gun-running operation, and the government’s lawsuits against Arizona and all of the state’s sheriffs for trying to enforce federal border laws. He was one of the sheriffs who asked to defend the controversial state law, S.B.1070, in federal court.

I wrote about Dever and two other Arizona Sheriffs in my WND commentary, “A trinity of heroes,” on Sept. 27, 2010.

Dever was interviewed often on national television and was invited several times to testify in Washington concerning the issue.

You’ve probably seen him. You couldn’t miss him: He always wore a white cowboy hat – intentional or not, a symbol from the Old West of the “good guy” – and that he was.

Larry Dever, a local Arizonan, was born and raised in the nearby town of St. David. He leaves his wife Nancy, six sons and 11 grandchildren.

Three of his sons and a daughter-in-law are in Arizona law enforcement. Another son is a firefighter, and the youngest is in college. His eldest, a U.S. Army major, was to be deployed the week Dever died.

To make the grief and shock even worse for the family, just four days before his death, Larry Dever’s 86-year-old mother, Annie Mae Dever died. She had suffered from cancer.

In addition to having talked with Sheriff Dever on my KSFO radio program many times over the years, I also had the honor of meeting him in person. We met through mutual friends, and I had the opportunity to have a long, informal conversation about many issues. I wish we’d been able to get together for that cup of coffee we’d recently talked about so I could have thanked him for his generosity of time over the years.

He knew my mother, who lived in his county and when she died recently, I told him.

Later, I mentioned in an e-mail what a huge job it is to go through attics, closets and sheds to deal with the “stuff” that people leave after they die.

He wrote back, “I pity my kids cleaning out my shed.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to accumulate a whole lot more junk before that time comes.”

Sadly, that time has come, much too soon. I hope he accumulated more junk, but it wasn’t enough. Fate caught him.

The sheriff department’s mission statement suits perfectly the man, Larry Dever. It’s a quote from Winston Churchill:

“It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”

He always did.

Larry Dever was 60.

God bless you.  You are missed.

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