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Vernon Hills police remember one of their own
By Bob Susnjara | Daily Herald Staff

A funeral procession of area police vehicles makes its way along Algonquin Road to attend services for Vernon Hills police officer Jesse Goldsmith.


Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

Police officers honored Vernon Hills police officer Jesse Goldsmith at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington. Goldsmith died of a heart attack last week.


Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

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Published: 6/10/2008 12:03 AM

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Willing to help others, protector, avid outdoorsman -- those were some ways Vernon Hills police officer Jesse Goldsmith was remembered at a memorial service Monday.

Nearly 300 visitors filled Willow Creek Community Church's chapel for the service. At least 75 police vehicles from across the Chicago area joined the funeral procession for the final five miles from Harper College in Palatine to the South Barrington church.

"To say he was well-liked is an understatement," Vernon Hills Police Chief Mark Fleischhauer said during his eulogy.

Goldsmith, 42, of Round Lake Beach, died of a heart attack June 2. His 17-year Vernon Hills career included work as a detective, firearms instructor and tactical team member, along with serving on the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System regional emergency response squad.

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At the service, Goldsmith was recalled for his willingness to help others on and off the job. Fleischhauer said Goldsmith -- known for his laugh, Southern drawl and easygoing style -- even volunteered to drive a Vernon Hills snow plow during major storms.

Fleischhauer said Goldsmith had a passion for law enforcement but also used compassion on the job. His personnel file bulged with compliments, including one from a driver who was impressed with his low-key approach in giving him a traffic ticket after a crash, the chief said.

Goldsmith's sister, Leslie Powell, said she and her brother grew up of modest financial means in downstate Coffeen. Because of that childhood experience, Goldsmith would usually be the first to grab his wallet and pay a tab when out with friends, she said.

Powell said Goldsmith had a knack for reading others when he was young, and he sometimes provided opinions about her boyfriends. She said she appreciated his role as a protector.

"For me, he was always my rock," Powell said. "I could talk to him about anything because he never judged or scolded."

Goldsmith was in his element when hunting and fishing. Vernon Hills police Sgts. Todd Williams and John Briscoe told the crowd at Willow Creek how Goldsmith even brought some game birds he shot and stuffed to the police station.

Both sergeants provided the crowd with some laughs when they read a list of top Goldsmith quotes. The lines included:

• "If it's flying, it's dying."

• "Simmer down."

• "I love animals. They're tasty."

Willow Creek Pastor Ray Ercoli said the crowd at Monday's memorial service was a reflection on how Goldsmith touched others in a positive way. Those who knew Goldsmith should take time to grieve, he said, and not deny painful emotions.

"If we don't take time to grieve," Ercoli said, "we don't honor Jesse's life."

Beside his sister, survivors include Goldsmith's mother and father.