Tombstone residents hold "Cowboy Walk Down" to honor Sheriff - Tucson News Now

Tombstone residents hold "Cowboy Walk Down" to honor Sheriff Dever

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TOMBSTONE, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A beloved sheriff was honored in Tombstone on Sunday.

Larry Dever was with the Cochise County sheriff's department for more than 30 years.  He tragically died in a roll-over crash near Williams last week, sending shock waves throughout Southern Arizona.

Hundreds of people gathered in the historic community of Tombstone on Sunday, to take part in a traditional Cowboy Walk Down, held in Dever's honor.

Dever lived in the community of St. David, which was not too far away from Tombstone.

Friends said many of the cowboys and cowgirls who took part in the historic gun fights and re-enactment shows in Tombstone were good friends with Dever.  They considered him a "home boy" and there was no doubt, like many others in the community, Dever would be sent off in true cowboy style, with a parade going through downtown.

In a historic community known as the Western frontier, residents called Sheriff Dever a true Western Sheriff.

Billy Cloud, the Marshall of Tombstone had worked with Dever before.  In fact, he also ran against Dever for sheriff in 2008.

Cloud described Dever as a dedicated family man who protected his community with passion.

"He epitomized the Western Cowboy Sheriff.  He lived that life, it was not just an act with him, he was truly a cowboy," said Cloud.

A small town Cowboy was put in the national spotlight over his hard stance on immigration and border issues.  He was well respected among other law enforcement leaders, and members of the community in which he served. 

Dever dedicated his whole adult life to law enforcement in Cochise County.  He started as a deputy, and moved up the ranks.  He ran for Sheriff in 1996.

"He'd been shot in the line of duty, stabbed in the line of duty. He had utterly given his life blood for law enforcement," said Cloud.

On Sunday, a rider-less horse symbolized his service.  The traditional cowboy walk down was led by a horse with the cowboy boots on stirrups, facing backwards.  It is a symbol of loss.  A symbol telling you the rider has fallen.

Hundreds of tourists and residents lined the streets to watch.  They described the scene as somber and melancholy.  Some said they got goose bumps, others said they had tears streaming down their faces. 

Sheriff Dever's family and many of his deputies walked behind the rider-less horse.  You also saw Tombstone residents wearing traditional mourning garb in the procession.

Cloud said cowboy walk downs like this one have been taking place since the 1800's.  It was an old Irish tradition.

Betty Krug a longtime resident, and owner of the Rhinestone Cowboy store said over the years, she had seen hundreds of Cowboy walk downs go by her downtown store.

"When anyone infamous dies, or a vigilante dies they do one.  They even did a walk down for a horse once.  This one was pretty somber, I liked that.  Sometimes they have sirens.  They even did one once with a helicopter which I think is not appropriate, or at least to my liking," said Krug.

A memorial service for Sheriff Larry Dever will take place at 5:30 PM on Wednesday at Buena High School in Sierra Vista.

Law enforcement from all over the state, and even the country are expected to show up to pay their respects. 

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