Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Montgomery County Loses a Great Friend.

At 3 A.M this morning, I was sitting at my computer, working on a personal project, enjoying the quiet of the night. The kids were in bed, TV off, it was very peaceful.

That is, until I got a text message that Sheriff John P. Durante had died a few hours before, apparently of a massive heart attack. Devastated is an understatement.

John and I became friends about 3 and a half years ago. During his re-election campaign, I helped out with a few of his fundraisers, and we hit it off. We became fast friends.

John was quite a complex man. He was rough and tough on the outside, but a big softie on the inside. He was involved in a lot of philanthropic endeavors outside of his political life, whether it was throwing a fundraiser for a sick little girl, raising money for 3 local boys who's mother was brutally murdered, to being involved with a dog rescue service, John had a heart of gold.

This is the John that I knew and loved.

John was also a very complex man, with a plethora of interests. John taught me how to make my own wine. Just last weekend, myself and 2 friends of John were over the house "racking" this year's wine.

Last year, we helped John and his wife with their dog rescue, fostering a dog for them for several months. We became much closer to John and Maria during those months.

Maria stopped by right after I started this post, to tell us, in person, of John's passing. My heart and prayers are with her, as well as with John's daughters, Christina and Deanna (and their families) as they come to grips with this tragedy.

One last remembrance...we went to a fundraiser together 2 Saturdays ago, the first time John had gone to one in some time. John told myself and my good friend, Jim, that he though of us as his "sons"...I was both humbled and honored that he thought that highly of us.

John was family to myself, Karen and the kids. John was a cop. John was the Sheriff of Montgomery County. He was a husband, a father, and a grandfather. John P. Durante was a philanthropist.

John was my good friend, and will be sorely missed.

I'll end with the press release issued by Former District Attorney and current County Commissioner, Bruce L. Castor, Jr.:

"I am saddened, as is the whole of law enforcement, to learn of the passing of Sheriff John P. Durante. John and I worked together in various capacities for nearly 25 years. He was a professional lawman, and expert in "CSI" when no one in the public even knew the term. John helped put away many of the county's worst criminals and did so without fanfare or desire for recognition. It was an honor to run for office with John in 1999 along side our other DA's Office colleague Mike Marino, and to have served in elective office with him for 10 years. He brought stature to the Sheriff's Department and had the respect of his peers and many friends. Above all, John had a heart of gold. We will miss him."

And here is the rest of it.

1 comment:

Janice Kearney said...

Such sad news, Bill. He obviously was a dear, close friend and father figure to you.

It's a sad time of year, it seems. I've lost two close political colleauges-turned-friends and advisors in the last few months, and a friend who was a high school classmate and mother of one of my son's baseball friends almost a year ago. 2 passed from cancer, one simply reached the end of a long life filled with community service.

Another close friend and political associate of mine's mother is in the hospital and not doing well. She's been a big supporter and believer in me too.

I know it's a rite of passage that we lose relationships we value greatly, but it doesn't make it any easier to bear.

I guess I just try to consider myself fortunate to have known them, remember the things I learned, and try to continue to honor their memory going forward.

I'm so sorry for your loss (and for everyone who feels this loss so much more personally than I can). I didn't know him but had met him briefly and of course heard about him for many years. He was a great, great man and will be sorely missed.

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