LIMA — Less than a day after the sudden death of Sheriff Jimmy Everett, his friends and co-workers remembered him Wednesday as the man behind the scenes who kept the ship running smooth and would drop everything to help anyone.
“As far as I’m concerned, he was the perfect deputy. The perfect deputy,” Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon said Wednesday.
Solomon often spoke to Everett, who was appointed interim sheriff one week before his death. Everett was the “go-to guy” for Solomon and others when Auglaize County deputies needed help. Everett would drop everything he was doing to help, Solomon said.
“No matter how busy he was he had time for you. He was not just the chief, he was a friend,” Solomon said as his voice broke with emotion.
Everett was a man who would tell people, if asked, he never wanted to be sheriff. He enjoyed his role behind the scenes and didn’t like the spotlight. But after a series of legal problems forced Sam Crish to resign last month, Everett was the man everyone at the agency turned to.
“He was always the guy we called, whether on the road or in the detective section,” Solomon said.
Everett’s loss brought many to tears, including deputies and Sheriff’s Office employees who paid tribute to him. On Wednesday afternoon, sheriff deputies and employees, as well as courthouse employees, stood outside waiting on a procession returning Everett’s body from the Lucas County Coroner’s Office to Lima. Deputies stayed with Everett’s body overnight at the coroner’s office as an honor guard.
An escort of sheriff cruisers drove by the Sheriff’s Office and stopped in front of the agency where deputies saluted a white sport utility vehicle in the procession with black sheriff vehicles with emergency lights running.
The procession was on the way to Chamberlain-Huckeriede Funeral Home on North Cable Road. Two fire trucks with their ladders extended and crossing across Cable Road paid tribute to Everett.
In 40 years in law enforcement, a career that began in 1975 at the Allen County Sheriff’s Office, Everett held nearly every title a deputy could have and worked in the patrol, administrative and investigative divisions.
He often was encouraged to run for sheriff but politely declined.
While Everett didn’t like the spotlight, he realized the past five months had been hard for everyone at the Sheriff’s Office and his talents and experience were needed. He put aside his own desires to step up and take the job of sheriff.
“He stepped up to sheriff to put the county above himself,” Solomon said. “He never forgot who he was serving, the public.”
Matt Treglia, who was appointed interim sheriff Wednesday, stood by Everett’s side after Crish’s problems that surfaced in September. Treglia has said for years he wanted to be sheriff someday but had no problem working under Everett.
“He was my mentor for 20 years and my best friend,” Treglia said. “He taught me a lot. He taught everyone a lot. He’s going to leave a deep hole in our hearts and a deep hole in our office.”
Treglia paused several times talking about Everett to regain his composure.
Allen County commissioners ordered flags at all county buildings to be flown at half-staff for 10 days and encouraged all business, governments in the county, and residents to do the same.
Solomon and Everett crossed paths from time to time as cases and issues involved both counties. Solomon remembers Everett as an investigator 20 years ago. Everett had his own style of conducting an interview showing even the worst criminals respect and in turn, he got respect back and often a confession, Solomon said.
Jack Somerville, a special deputy with the Sheriff’s Office for 54 years and a staunch supporter of law enforcement, said he knew Everett for more than 40 years.
“I watched Jimmy come through the ranks. This is a big loss for Allen County and for the sheriff’s department,” Somerville said.
Somerville was with Everett the night before his death at a deputy’s meeting. Like everyone else, Somerville was just shocked by Everett’s sudden death.
Everett entered St. Rita’s Medical Center on Wednesday with back pain. Allen County Coroner Dr. Gary Beasley ordered an autopsy but said those results were pending.
Allen County Republican Party Chairman Keith Cheney met Everett in the 1970s when his father worked with Everett. The two formed a friendship through the years and Everett became like family to him.
“I knew Jimmy very well. He had a great relationship with my dad. He was absolutely an outstanding law enforcement officer and an outstanding human being,” Cheney said.
Many people paid tribute to Everett on Facebook and other forms of social media. Sheriff offices across the state as well as sheriff associations paid tribute to Everett through online posts. The Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association will send its honor guard to Everett’s funeral.
Allen County Sheriff’s Office employees thanked Everett through online posts for his kindness and help while saying he would be missed. Residents who didn’t even know the sheriff expressed sorrow.
Treglia said there wasn’t a person out there who didn’t like Everett.
“Everyone loved him,” Treglia said.
Reach Greg Sowinski at 567-242-0464 or on Twitter @Lima_Sowinski.