A large crowd gathered today in the Independence high school gym for the funeral of an Iowa State Trooper who was shot to death a week ago during a stand-off with an armed man in Grundy Center. For more than half an hour, officers from all over the country saluted as they filed by Sergeant Jim Smith’s flag-draped casket.
Paul Heppner, interim pastor at Smith’s church in Jesup, spoke of the trooper’s faith to start the service.
“He’s been a blessing to us and it’s difficult for us to let him go,” Heppner said.
Heppner called Smith “the real deal.”
“Jim had integrated God’s word into every part of his life and Jim’s internal compass pointed directly to honesty, integrity and love,” Heppner said. “See, Jim wasn’t putting on an act. It was his inner purity that made him unique.”
John Noll, the worship leader at Smith’s church, delivered a closing prayer,
“Friends, family, those he service with, those who he worshipped with — we all miss Jim and our hearts and our minds struggle to understand why this happened,” Noll said. “…We thank you for his life, his example of serving and we are forever grateful and forever better people for having known him.”
Colonel Nathan Fulk, chief of the Iowa State Patrol, called Smith a selfless leader.
“Jim’s priorities were faith, family and his committment to public service and his community,” Fulk said.
It’s been 85 years since an Iowa State Trooper has been shot to death while on duty.
“During a time in history when we wonder with conflict and adversity and challenge, we can doubt the support we have in society,” Fulk said. “However the outpouring of support for the city of Independence has been truly amazing. You’ve reminded us why we love working, living and serving in the State of Iowa.”
As is customary, a final radio call for Smith was played to conclude the service.
“Sergeant Smith, your brothers and sisters in law enforcement will forever watch over your family. May you rest in eternal peace,” were the final words on the recording.
Smith, who was 51, leaves behind a wife, a daughter and a son. Smith’s family has established a memorial fund to finance a scholarship in his name.