Tuesday, March 15, 2011


It was one year ago that our community lost Elyria Police Officer Jim Kerstetter. I have been trying to figure out how to handle the first anniversary of that horrible night, I’ve even had friends offer suggestions of what I should do. As I reflect back on the 15th and the days that followed one thing kept sticking out – the support from the community.

I remember standing at the scene that night with a photographer from News Channel 5 and telling him about Jim. I told him that although after someone dies we almost always hear, “he was a great guy,” well, in this case that line is true. Try to find an enemy of Jim Kerstetter. Try to find someone that will tell a bad story about him. Good luck if you try, because you’re just not going to find it.

I believe the actions of our community in the hours and days following proved what I told my friend. The outpouring of support to Jim’s family and to the Elyria Police Department was an amazing tribute to a great Police Officer and friend. From the candlelight vigil that was attended by hundreds to the funeral that saw thousands lining the streets of Elyria and Sheffield Village, our community truly came together to say thank you to Jim.

There was one night that really stood out for me showing just how much Jim touched the lives of so many in this community. It was Friday night after the vigil at the Police Station. I had heard people were going to line North Abbe Road with candles for the family as they drove home from the funeral home. So after the vigil I decided to drive down N Abbe to see if I could get some photos of the candles, or maybe just to see them. As I rounded the corner onto Abbe from 57 I noticed people standing in the parking lots across from Drug Mart. I first thought ok this is the group of people who placed the candles but then as I continued up Abbe towards the college just about every corner had people standing with signs and candles. When I made it to the college there were hundreds of people standing on the side of the road. They were all there to show their support to Jim’s family as they drove past heading home. They stood for hours just to waive and stand silently as the family drove by for a moment.

March 20, 2010 – the day of Jim’s funeral and the images from that day will forever be in my mind. As horrible as the events from the 15th were, the support this community showed to Jim’s family and to his extended family at the Elyria Police Department was phenomenal. That is what will forever be in my mind.

I miss seeing my friend out on the road. I miss the long chats at Speedway on the weekends. I miss seeing him wear the black stocking hat that is known as “the Kerstetter hat.” Mostly, I just miss him being around. When I get to missing him I just picture him standing with his arms crossed and him smiling. I’m not totally sure if there is a Heaven and Hell, but what I am sure about though is if they do exist I am positive my friend is up above watching over us. As Christine Halvorsen wrote in her poem to Jim – “Now Guarding the Gates of Heaven, EPD – 177.”

A good friend of mine, Jason Gilbert, wrote a song years ago titled, “In the Silence.” I kept thinking of the song, and the words in the song, last year after we lost Jim. The words can be a great comfort to anyone who has lost someone.

When I walk
You walk along
You’re right beside me
With your love guiding me
And no matter – what tomorrow brings
You comfort me

Last fall I got Jason into a recording studio in Cleveland to record his song special for this tribute video to my friend. As you watch the images go by, I ask that you listen to the words in his song.

The first song on the video is called, “The Coulin” and was performed live by Brigid’s Cross.

One last piece of business before I end – As some of you may know there was a 5K held in Jim’s name last year. That tradition will continue this July 9th as the KERSTETTER 5K RUN / FAMILY WALK returns. For information about the K5K you can log on to kerstetter5k.com (still under construction) or join the facebook page. See you all in July.

Rest in Peace my friend. You earned it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A remarkable tribute that leaves a person speechless. Our prayers continue to go to the Kerstetter family.

10:20 PM  
Blogger trshea said...

Thank you for you beautiful article.I met Officer Kerstetter late at night one night. It seems I am always the one who has to call the police. I was out with my dog and it was late in the evening.I heard a far away moan and the words "please somone call the police." It was down the block and vague but persistent. I called the police and Kerstetter came. I figured he wouldn't hear it, but he listened to me first and with my information slowly and quietly
crept down the street. I never saw anything like it. This way he heard what I heard and he helped that person and arrested two people. His kindness is like the kindness of many in the EPD who help all of us at difficult moments especially in the creepy dark night. Thank you TMCnews, Officer Kerstetter and the EPD.

7:41 PM  

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