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Wendy Reuer, Published August 31 2010

One more chance to remember: Mahnomen celebrates life of Deputy Christopher Dewey

MAHNOMEN, Minn. – A public memorial service held Monday night in honor of fallen deputy Christopher Dewey was a chance for the community that knew him to say a final goodbye to a man who loved fishing, his family and his high school sweetheart.

A public service was held for Dewey at the Mahnomen High School gymnasium. His wife, Emily, who orchestrated the event, was adamant that the night would not be one of mourning.

“I wanted Chris’ life to be celebrated,” Emily Dewey said.

Christopher Dewey, a Mahnomen County sheriff’s deputy, was wounded in the line of duty about 18 months ago. He was shot in the head and stomach while responding to a call Feb. 18, 2009.

He spent a year rehabbing at a hospital in Colorado before returning home to Minnesota. After numerous medical setbacks and complications, he died on Aug. 9. A funeral was held in Brooklyn Park on Aug. 18.

Monday night’s service was a chance to remember him one last time.

“I came in honor of Chris. He was a great person to work with,” said Sharon Burkman, a Mahnomen County Court administration staff member. Burkman, like many other county workers, was unable to attend the funeral.

Some who never knew Dewey personally also came.

Seventeen-year-old Breanna Hanson said she has followed his story since the shooting.

“I’m from this town, and I was in school when the shooting happened,” Hanson said.

Emily Dewey remained poised and stoic as she led a procession of family, friends and fellow law enforcement officers in honor of her late husband. When the color guard presented the flags and bag pipes played “Amazing Grace,” she remained composed, a goal of hers she later revealed during an interview.

A lighter air filled the service when photos of the late deputy flashed on a large screen to the tune of a Brad Paisley song.

Christopher Dewey was known for his love of fishing and hunting, something nearly every picture showed. He was the oldest of five brothers and two-stepsisters. Christopher and Emily Dewey were high school sweethearts who grew up in Cambridge together before moving to Mahnomen when Dewey was hired by the Mahnomen County Sheriff’s Office in 2004.

“I thought the ceremony went very well,” Emily Dewey said. “It was good for the community to have their closure.”

Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist talked about Dewey’s law enforcement family and told Emily Dewey that she will always be a part of it.

“You will always be in our hearts, and you will always be a part of our family,” Bergquist said to her.

Bergquist said it takes a special person to be in law enforcement and an even more special person to be a law enforcement spouse.

After the service, Emily Dewey released a dove in honor of her late husband. She said it gave her great peace.

Emily Dewey has withstood a media storm following the shooting and during the past 18 months. She said having that attention on her and her family made the experience more difficult but that her faith helped her through it and allowed her to remain by her husband’s side.

She said she plans to leave Friday with her sister for a trip to Colorado, where they will visit with people they met while Deputy Dewey was in rehabilitation.

After a week, Emily Dewey will leave for an open-ended trip while her sister returns home.

“I’m going to head out wherever I feel like going, just be alone with my thoughts for a while,” she said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530