Sheila McLaughlin reports:
Lt. Jon DeWitt set his priorities: his wife and two teenaged children, the West Chester Township police force where he worked for more than two decades and the Marine Corps that gave him discipline and set a direction in his life.
Lt. DeWitt, 46, died June 1 at West Chester Hospital, nine months after being diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer.
The Sioux City, Iowa, native spent most of his youth in Oxford after his late father, Lawrence, took a job as chair of the music department at Miami University.
Despite family ties to the university, Lt. DeWitt opted to serve his country after graduation from Talawanda High School in 1985, his brother said.
“It was just the direction he wanted to go,” David DeWitt said. “It was an enormous part of his life.”
After his four-year commitment to the Corps was up, he joined the Hamilton County Sheriffs Office as a corrections officer while he worked on his police certification.
Lt. DeWitt was hired as a West Chester Township police officer in 1992 and reached his current rank in June 2010.
The Liberty Township resident served as a member of the SWAT Team, a firearms trainer, the department armorer and a field training officer teaching new officers the ropes of police work.
“Jon was a natural leader and a true asset to this department,” Police Chief Eric Niehaus said.
Lt. DeWitt’s gentle nature made him a success at his job, his brother said.
“He was such an approachable guy. He had a knack for being to talk about anything. He took a lot of pride in his work,” David DeWitt said.
Outside the job, until three years ago, Lt. DeWitt was an avid hockey player who spent competitive time on the ice on a team of fellow officers at Miami University’s Goggins Ice Center until he blew out a knee and realized “he wasn’t 20 any more,” his brother said.
Lt. DeWitt also had a deep commitment to Boy Scouting, and served as a committee member in Troop 947 to which his son belonged.
So strong was that tie, his brother said, that Lt. DeWitt worked hard at rehabbing his knee so he could go with his son to the Boy Scouts Philmont high adventure camp in New Mexico only three months after the injury.
“That was incredibly impressive,” DeWitt said. “He had total knee reconstruction and he did a 55-mile backpacking trip with his son.”
In addition to his brother, survivors include his wife, Angela DeWitt; a son, Nicholas DeWitt; a daughter, Rachel DeWitt; and a sister, Susan Pyne, of Chicago.
Services have been held.
Memorials: Scholarship Fund for Rachel and Nicholas DeWitt at any Fifth Third Bank branch.
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