A northern Illinois sheriff’s deputy has left a lasting impact on his community after his sudden death on March 7, 2019.
Deputy Jacob Keltner was serving an arrest warrant when he was fatally shot by a suspect trying to escape.
He had served with the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office for 12 years and the community grieved alongside his family and those whom he worked closely with.
A local Texas Roadhouse displayed a touching tribute to Deputy Keltner until he was laid to rest.
They set up a “Fallen Hero table” with each element signifying something different: a lemon wedge representing the hero’s bitter fate and a salt shaker serves a reminder of the tears shed.
The restaurant wrote on their Facebook, “We send many prayers to his family, friends, and colleagues.”
The owner of a local dealership has also honored the late law enforcement officer in a heartwarming day.
When Gary Rosenburg of Crystal Lake Chrysler Jeep Dodge learned that Deputy Keltner lived near his dealership and that the officer had purchased a van from him two years ago, Rosenburg knew the perfect way to extend a helping hand to his grieving family: pay off the rest of Deputy Keltner’s car loan.
He told WICS that it was the right thing to do.
The most emotional tribute, however, came from his wife Becki Keltner.
Four days after his death, she released a heartbreaking letter with the intention of bringing humanity back to her husband’s story.
She wrote, “I am writing this letter because my husband, Jacob Keltner, should be remembered not as another statistic but as a man, a great man, who sacrificed his life to protect others.”
She shared how they met, fell in love and raised their two boys.
“I was so lucky to have found a love so good and a man worth spending my life with,” Keltner continued.
Her letter also highlighted Deputy Keltner’s adventurous spirit, bravery and love for the Chicago Cubs.
Becki Keltner also talked about his passion to serve his local community and country, calling him a “cop’s cop.”
“He was a true patriot who wanted to protect the people of this country,” she wrote. “So I knew when he was selected for a position on the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force, I couldn’t have stopped him from taking the job if I tried. I knew it was dangerous, but he was smart, strong, and great at what he did. I knew he would protect his fellow officers like he protected our family.”
But the phone call she had prayed would never come came on March 7, 2019; she described it as a “nightmare” that became real.
“Now I find myself a 33 year old widow; mother of two young boys who no longer have their daddy. It feels unreal. I have screamed. I have cried. Nothing can make this better,” she wrote.
She explained that having to tell her two sons that their daddy would never be coming home was one of the worst moments of her life.
Keltner also expressed that even though being a cop’s wife had its difficulties, she was incredibly proud of her husband’s heart for others and that she truly doesn’t know how she will continue to live life without him.
“There are no words to sum up a man who meant so much to me and to so many others. My only wish is to have a world where we stop hating each other,” she wrote.
She implored people to have an outlook on life similar to her husband’s, to look past the bad things of the world and to look at others with a compassionate heart.
“He saw the worst of the worst every day but still had so much love in his heart,” she ended her letter. “He was true and loyal. We all need to show each other love. Lift each other up. It’s the only way to stop the unconscionable madness.”
The funeral service and procession were held on March 13, 2019. If you would like to make a donation to Deputy Keltner’s family, please read this Facebook post to learn how.
We are praying for Keltner’s family and the community as they continue to grieve the loss of a hero who was taken too soon.
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