In Memory of Sheriff Larry Dever…
Arizona sheriff Who Exposed Obama Administration on Deportations is Dead
Nancy Dever, second from left, the widow of Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever, accepts the American flag from Chief Deputy Rod Rothrock, far right, of the Cochise County Sheriffs Office, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, in Sierra Vista, Ariz. At the memorial for the late sheriff. Nancy Dever is flanked by two of her sons, Kurt Dever, left, and Brendon Dever.
30 mile Funeral Procession for Sheriff Larry Dever
SIERRA VISTA — Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever was remembered Wednesday at a memorial service here as an unpretentious, soft-spoken guy whose voice carried across Arizona and the nation with plain truth about border and immigration issues.
Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl in his eulogy called Dever a real-life Gary Cooper or John Wayne playing the good guy in the white hat.
“He was a man of few words, but when he spoke people listened,” Kyl said during an evening service that filled the Buena High School auditorium.
Members of police and fire agencies from across Arizona and as far away as Texas turned out to honor Dever, 60, who was killed Sept. 18 in a one-vehicle accident south of Williams. The four-term sheriff served 36 years in the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office and had been seeking re-election in November.
Dever had emerged as a clear voice nationally for stepped-up enforcement on human and drug smuggling in Cochise County and along the entire border with Mexico.
Sheriff Harold Eavenson of Rockwall County, Texas, remembered participating in a conference phone call among sheriffs to discuss border enforcement and hoping that Dever would join the call.
Dever never did, but he later explained that he was “stuck in the San Pedro River chasing illegals” at the time, Eavenson said.
“While we were discussing (border issues), Larry was out there doing something about it,” Eavenson said.
In one of the biggest applause lines at the memorial, Eavenson said that if leaders in Washington “had listened to (Dever) years ago, we wouldn’t be having the problems we’re having today.”
The crowd of several hundred included family and friends of Dever, Cochise County residents, and current or retired police or sheriff’s officers, who accounted for nearly half of those attending.
Gov. Jan Brewer, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and Congressmen Ron Barber and Jeff Flake were in attendance.
Retiring Sierra Vista Police Chief Ken Kimmel said he was impressed with Dever’s leadership during the Miracle Valley shootings in Cochise County in 1982 in which Dever was wounded. Deputy Jeff Brown died in the clash with the Christ Miracle Healing Center and Church, Kimmel said.
“He was the patriarch of law enforcement in Cochise County,” Kimmel said of Dever. “We’re going to miss our patriarch.”
Others told of Dever’s devotion to his family — his wife, Nancy, their six sons and 13 grandchildren.
Sierra Vista Fire Chief Randy Redmond said Dever never planned to leave a legacy; he just went about doing his work and raising his family.
“We will never forget his legacy, his family,” Redmond said.
A private funeral was held for Dever on Saturday in St. David, southeast of Benson, where he grew up.
The memorial service in Sierra Vista included a 30-mile procession of more than 100 law-enforcement vehicles from roughly two dozen agencies escorting the family to the ceremony.
The auditorium stage was filled with flowers and photographs of Dever on his horse and wearing a white cowboy hat.
One of those hats was hung on the edge of a picture frame.
Dan Harlan of Benson, who attended the service, said he had known Dever since they were kids growing up in nearby towns.
Harlan said he is a third-generation Cochise County rancher with a lot of ties to the Devers.
Dever’s death is a great loss, said Harlan, who donned an off-white cowboy hat, a leather vest and a big silver belt buckle.
“I suspect every individual is replaceable but it’s going to be an interesting task trying to replace Larry,” he added.
Roger and Lorenza Wysong, both retired from the Army and living in Hereford, both said that Dever was a genuine person who was approachable and kind.
“I used to talk to him at the Cochise County Fair,” Roger Wysong said.
“The fair starts tomorrow and I was looking forward to seeing him.”
The service was to conclude with a presentation of the flag to the family and a 21-gun salute by the Pima County Rifleman Team.