Our city is heartbroken. Laurel’s beloved chief of police, Tyrone Stewart, passed this morning. He was a lot more than that to me though. When he and his brother were teenage football stars, they worked as transporters in my daddy’s physical therapy department at the hospital. He became a kind of mentor and father figure to them, and I gained two big brothers who would watch over me the rest of my life. My first job was at the mall in high school. At night, I had an escort to my car in the mall parking lot although I assured them it was overkill.
When Baker ran to our vet’s office during a thunderstorm one day, Tyrone gave him a police escort and called me on the way. He had toy drives for children in need at Christmas.
He was the most involved and loving father and husband. His daughter is getting married soon and my heart breaks for her. He spoke of Jasmine and Justin with so much love and pride, and rightly so. He and his wife raised two amazing kids.
He gave his personal cell phone number to everyone in town so they would always feel taken care of. He put up official signs around the courthouse that made us all laugh, that said “PULL UP YOUR PANTS BEFORE ENTERING THIS BUILDING.” The last voice mail I have from Tyrone came when I was pregnant with Helen. He told me, “I just saw you roll through a stop sign back there and I need you to think about my niece Helen next time and be CAREFUL!”
For all the problems Laurel has overcome in the last 10 years, he was one of its biggest catalysts. I loved him. And gosh this city feels a little dimmer without him. 💔