A sense of camaraderie and love filled the air as hundreds prepared their final goodbyes.
“Obviously to other people he was many things. To me, he was dad,” said son Justin Painter. “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.”
Many who took the podium say he was an enemy to none and a friend to all. Those who love him say he lived by the motto: God, family, country.
“The minute Gary Painter took his last breath on this earth, he was in Heaven,” said Chaplain of the Midland County Sheriff’s Office, Mark Henry. “Surrounded by all the heavenly angels, and Jesus stepping forward, wrapping his arms around Sheriff Gary Painter, and looking at him and saying, ‘Well done.'”
Fellow officers shared stories of Painter’s unconditional love for law enforcement. They also spoke of the lives he has touched along the way.
“The Sheriff said he was very confident that when he passes away, that he would go to heaven,” explained Chief Deputy, Rory McKinney. “After he said that, he sat there is silence for a couple of minutes and said, you know, come to think of it, I may have done a couple of questionable things when I was younger.”
There were laughter, and there were tears.
“And I wish, ladies and gentleman, that I had the confidence to call him my friend, but legends are not meant for such familiarity,” said Chief Seth Herman of Midland Police Department. He says his father and Sheriff Gary Painter have been role models in his life. He stated they were, “cut from the same cloth.”
Later, Midland County Judge, Terry Johnson, took to the stage.
“For someone who has given so much to the Lord, his country, his community, and his family… Rest easy now, Sheriff Gary Painter. We’ll take it from here.”
And with the last song, and the last prayer, came Sheriff Gary Painter’s last radio call.