Governor Rick Scott and, Attorney General Pam Bondi along with hundreds of law enforcement and community members honored a fallen sheriff’s deputy during his Memorial Service Monday in Niceville.
Reverend Ray Angerman of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church is a longtime friend of Deputy Bill Myers. Angerman says Myers was there for him and his family when his daughter was killed by a drunk driver. He says now, it’s time for him to be there for Myers and his family.
“And, when I talked to Bill’s family, they reminded me they didn’t want a funeral service, they wanted a celebration of Bill’s life,” said Angerman. “Let the celebration begin. I’m glad that you’re here to celebrate Bill’s life with us.”
That celebration in the Raider Arena at Northwest Florida State College included spiritual hymns and positive memories of the 65-year-old Deputy. Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley says many in the community sent in letters or spoke to Ashley about Myers’ impact on their lives. One was a Longwood teacher who turned her life around and another was a woman Ashley met at a candlelight vigil ceremony for Myers.
“She stated she was a teenager who was always running away, but Bill would always know how to find her,” said Ashley. “Later in life she tried to commit suicide, and Bill was there. Bill pointed to her three young children, and asked her, ‘what would become of them without their mother?’ The gratitude that I saw in that woman’s eyes and in her voice and in her person and in her heart, is what made Bill’s life special.”
Myers was shot to death last week, while serving a domestic violence injunction. Earlier this year, he had come out of retirement and worked for the sheriff’s department part time to take his family to Disney World.
“For those that don’t know, Bill was a Disney freak,” said Lt. Fred Lithgow. “I don’t know how else to say it.”
Lithgow, who’s worked and known Myers for 20 years, took to the podium, putting a shirt with a big black silhouette of the head of Mickey Mouse on display.
“He would go to Disney several times a month,” added Lithgow. “He would buy seasonal tickets. One time, I’m sitting there in the office. It’s our first day back. It’d been a weekend, and he said he’d gone to Disney. I said, ‘when’d you leave? Friday?’ He goes, ‘no, yesterday.’ I went, ‘excuse me?’ He goes, ‘no, I left yesterday. I got up, drove down to Disney, and about time they opened up, about seven or eight hours , spent all day there, and I drove home.’ I just shook my head.”
Lithgow also shared stories about some famous busts he did with Myers as well as his final moments with his fellow “brother under the badge,” asking about what he wanted for Lunch.
“I will say the world is a better place because of Bill and the worst without him,” he continued. “We, his duty family and the community, will miss him. His off-duty family will bear the brunt of this void. And, I know the big mouse in Orlando will surely miss his face among the crowd. I say goodbye to our friend, my twin brother. Next time, Bill, when I see you with our friends, Tony, Bert, Skip, I’ll ask one thing and one thing only, ‘where is lunch?’”
Several state and federal officials also attended the service. That included Governor Rick Scott, who said Myers will never be forgotten.
“Deputy Myers touched thousands of lives by his lifetime of service and bravery,” said Scott. “Deputy Myers was a defender of his community, and he wore his badge with honor and courage. He also took great pride in his family, especially his 7 grandchildren. I share Deputy Myers’ love of taking grandchildren to Disney World.”
At the end of the service, there was a rifle salute, the flag was presented to the family and a “last radio call” was made to the fallen deputy, ending with the bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace.” Following the service, a motor vehicle procession took place, heading toward The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island.
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