Al Rovenstine
Al Rovenstine
C. Alan Rovenstine, former Kosciusko County sheriff, died at 11:25 a.m. Thursday .

He was 81.

Rovenstine was elected sheriff in 1979 and served two consecutive terms. He took a four-year break, then was elected to two more terms in 1991.

Rovenstine had been battling cancer and passed away at Miller’s Merry Manor.

Rovenstine’s passing had those who knew him recalling who he was.

“For my lifetime, I’ve never known a time the Rovenstines weren’t a part of it,” friend Jean Northenor said. “He was a very soft spoken, kind, laid back man. Never controversial, and I don’t believe I ever heard a hateful word come out of his mouth.”

Northenor said she remembers when Rovenstine decided to run for sheriff the first time.

“That was a real big deal. He came here and I was sitting on my couch and he said, “I think I want to run for sheriff.’ He thought that he could build a bigger and better sheriff’s department, and I think he really did,” Northenor recalled. “Of course in his term was when we built the first new jail and he was very much a part of that, seeing that it was put together right and that it was good for the workers as well as any of the people that had to come in and be in jail for awhile.”

Those who worked for him said he was like a father figure.

“He was a very nice gentleman, and he would do about anything for anybody,” former KCSO Sgt. Floyd Knafel said. “He taught us all how to deal with people in a unique way.”

In 1994, Det. Sgt. Phillip Hochstetler was gunned down by a burglary suspect and Knafel said Rovenstine’s reaction helped keep the sheriff’s department together.

“He was a father figure to all of the younger guys. He was very calm. I never really saw him get angry or upset with anybody,” Knafel said.

Kosciusko County Emergency Management Director Ed Rock served as a reserve deputy when he worked for Rovenstine and said he was a great guy to work with and work for.

“He had a good level head. He was a logical person and he was very funny,” Rock said. “But he could be downright serious, too. He got the job done and he was human while he did it. That’s not an easy job, and he managed to accomplish it.

Sue Ann Mitchell, Kosciusko County Council President said Rovenstine believed in her when she didn’t believe in herself.

“Al was the one who encouraged me to run for the auditor job in 1999,” Mitchell said.

County Administrator Marsha McSherry said she’s known Rovenstine “since forever.

“You would have to look long and hard to find another man as respected as Al Rovenstine,” McSherry said. “He was a great friend, great community leader, and he had a great heart.”

Ernie Wiggins was elected mayor in 1997 and said he got to work with Rovenstine for a year.

“He was a gentleman. I’d say 95% of the people that were in his jail were fond of him,” Wiggins said. “He set the bar for his son to come in later. We had a very good working relationship. All you had to do was ask and he would do anything not only for the Republican party, but any county official.”

County Councilwoman Joni Truex said she’s known Rovenstine since she moved here in 1987.

“Al was the kind of person that you would want for your father-in-law or your grandfather. He was just a solid, decent person,” Truex said. “He would dole out advice sagely, and he was a great sheriff. He always had Atwood’s best interests in mind. Just a really exemplary man that a lot of people looked up to, including me. He will be missed.”

Mike Spiegel, who works as courthouse security, was holding back tears Thursday evening and said it’s been a tough day.

“Aaron (Rovenstine’s son) and I went to school together, so I’ve known him since I was in school. He got me in the task force in 1988,” Spiegel said. “He was a father figure. He was just the nicest guy. He didn’t have a harsh thing to say. He helped set my moral compass is what he did.”

Spiegel said he worked the drug task force before it got funded.

“You just looked at your pager and you knew, when it said 43-1 Al needed you and it was important,” he said. “And I never heard criticism about him. At his wife’s funeral, he came over and he made sure he hugged every person individually who was there from the sheriff’s department.”

Joe Mooney started working under Rovenstine in 1984 as a reserve officer and said it’s hard to handle his passing.

“He was the kindest man. He was a people’s sheriff. I also thought a lot of his son, Aaron. Al was an old-time sheriff,” Mooney said. “He was a leader of the community. If there was a problem, he could take care of the situation.”

Mooney said everyone who worked under Rovenstine was treated like family and remembered before the expansion of the jail how the dispatch and police were all together.

“He would always make sure that the dispatchers would eat. He would go run the radio while they ate. He would always make sure they were taken care of before he left,” Mooney said. “He always cared about people and their feelings. He led and never let anybody down. You could always count on the sheriff’s department when he was sheriff.”

Funeral arrangements are pending with McHatton-Sadler Funeral Chapel.

“If there’s anybody that deserves a positive send off, it’s Al,” Northenor said.