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Paying in forward: Officer's legacy of empathy lives on

Staff writer

One-time sheriff’s deputy and Peabody police chief Don Rosine died almost three years ago, but his legacy is far from over.

When former resident Stephen King recently took his oath to become a police officer in Douglas, Wyoming, a Peabody lapel pin from Rosine was fastened close to his heart-- on the inside of his shirt, so as not to break uniform.

Don Rosine was a father figure of sorts for King.

“I grew up knowing Don all my life,” he said. “He and my dad were best friends. He always treated everybody that he ever dealt with empathy--not so much sympathy, but he always took into account what might be going on in their life.”

King, who moved with his wife and two kids to Wyoming a few years ago when he got a job teaching in the automotive diesel field, didn’t get to fulfill his longtime dream of becoming a law enforcement officer until now.

“Sometimes, life gets in the way, with kids and family,” he said.

His wife, Kattie, recently finished college and was hired as a family care counselor, making it possible for King to chase his dreams of following in Rosine’s footsteps.

“I’ve got a lot of different opinions when a situation comes up that I’m not sure how to deal with,” King said. “I ask myself, ‘how would Don treat this situation?’ He was strict but also fair. I try to model that and take it into account every traffic stop, every person I confront, every major crime I deal with: What he would do.”

Don’s widow, Cheryl, still misses her police officer/cowboy.

“Don didn’t judge,” she said “It could be 110 degrees and Don would drive around, with his window down waving, and it didn’t matter who you were, he waved at everybody. He used to tell me he could arrest them on a Friday night and have lunch with them Saturday.”

Cheryl said her husband’s health had been declining long before he died in September 2015 and that while many community members were aware of this, his death still affected many people.

“It was kind of a feeling of half the town burning down,” she said. “Don loved Peabody and adored the people. There was just a huge part of Peabody missing.”

Rosine has faith King will be successful because of the similarities in personality between King and Don.

“I see so much of Don in Stephen because he is so laid back,” she said. “There were times that you didn’t think Don was listening, but he was.”

Cheryl’s heart fills with pride at the thought of Don’s legacy making an impact on King’s life, but still misses her husband.

“You always hear people talk about being married to their best friend,” she said. “But he was literally my best friend and my soul mate. I could talk to him about anything. I’ve tried for so many years to pick up his compassion and practice it. He was there to enforce the law but he always did it with compassion.”

King, who will graduate soon from a police academy, sums up his father figure’s legacy in just six short words.

“He was just a great man.”

Last modified June 7, 2018

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