Jim Lightner, who spent 26 years in local law enforcement, and who retired just last October, died Wednesday evening at Hedrick Medical Center in Chillicothe. He was 63.
Although retired, Lightner had continued working part-time for the county, helping with court bailiff and security details at the courthouse. Earlier yester- day, he served as bailiff for judges Tom Chapman and Jim Valbracht.
The mood at the sheriff's office was somber today as colleagues mourned his passing.
"Our entire office is very sad for the loss of a great friend, an extremely dedicated officer, and family man," Sheriff Steve Cox said. "All of our thoughts and prayers remain with the Lightner family."
Lightner was well-respected among his peers.
"Jim, literally, made a positive impact on thousands of people throughout his law enforcement career," Cox said. "He had the ability to interview anyone and collect piles of information."
The sheriff stated that Lightner had a gift for getting confessions from suspects when many other officers were doing good just to get the person to give their name.
"Jim would offer to step in and, most often, would get a confession in a matter of minutes," Cox said. "He had the ability to make a friend through an arrest, and impact that person in a positive way."
Lightner retired as chief deputy of the Livingston County Sheriff's Office on Oct. 31, 2012, after serving the local community through the sheriff's office and Chillicothe Police Department since 1985. He began his career under Sheriff Leland O'Dell. He later transferred to the police department and served 14 years with that organization, advancing to the rank of detective sergeant prior to returning to the sheriff's office in 2001. He accepted employment under Sheriff Cox as detective, and was later promoted to the position of chief deputy.
Through the course of his career, Lightner received many honors, including being named Deputy of the Year by the Missouri Sheriff's Association in 2007. In 2002, he received two awards for valor from KQTV for performances while on duty. He also received three life-saving awards and a significant number of commendations for helping people.
"During his time, Jim helped many people, made many friends, crossed the paths of some well known criminals, and [gave] all of us many smiles and laughs," the sheriff said upon Lightner's retirement in October.
Aside from his law enforcement career, Lightner was an avid outdoorsman, and enjoyed hunting and fishing. He also excelled at the poker table and participated in poker fund-raisers.
Lightner is survived by his wife, Lovie, two children, and three grandchildren.
The sheriff reported that a 911 call regarding an unresponsive person at the Lightner residence was received at the sheriff's office Wednesday evening.
"The Chillicothe Department of Emergency Services, Chula First Responders, and members of the Livingston County Sheriff's Office promptly responded to the home of Jim Lightner. The LCSO 911 dispatcher, Emergency Responders and family did an outstanding job in attempting to save human life but, unfortunately, Jim passed away," Cox said.
Funeral arrangements are pending under the direction of Lindley Funeral Home.