Slain Trooper Laid to Rest On Gilmer Hill
By Charles A. Mason
Staff Write




CEDAR VILLE - A West Virginia State Police trooper was laid to rest Monday on a high, picturesque Gilmer County hill, his grave framed by the woodlands where he loved to hunt.

Senior Trooper Larry G. Hacker, 34, Harrisville, was buried near Cedarville in the Dobbins Family Cemetery in an isolated area accessible only by a winding dirt and gravel road.

At his graveside was an honor contingent of state troopers, adorned in white gloves which accentuated sharp salutes given their fallen comrade.

At least 20 state police cruisers lined the tiny, rural road leading to the cemetery. The plot is surrounded by a small fence and it was lined Monday afternoon with colorful foyers bathed in late afternoon sunshine.

Hacker was shot in the line of duty last week while answering a call in Pullman, rural Ritchie County. Dennis Ferguson, 67, of Pullman, faces a preliminary hearing Wednesday afternoon before Magistrate David Haugh on one count of first-degree murder. He is being held in the Ritchie County Jail without bond.

Hacker, born in Barberton, Ohio, is survived by his wife, Diane, and two daughters, Erica and Julia. His wife was presented an American flag at the gravesite by a state police trooper. The flag draped her husband's casket on the two-hour ride from Harrisville to the family plot in Gilmer County.

Earlier Monday, an estimated 1,200 people attended a memorial service in the Ritchie County High School gymnasium in Harrisville.

Lawmen from several states and just about every county in the region as well as Gov. Gaston Caperton and state Sen. Larry Weidebush of Marshall County turned out to hear Trooper First Class Ronald Blevins deliver a moving eulogy to Hacker.

"We were a family. We feel like we lost a brother," Blevins said, his voice breaking with emotion. "I feel like my heart's being pumped out."

Lining one wall of the gym was a grandstand filled with lawmen from around West Virginia - from Princeton to Brooke County. Police officers from West Virginia's surrounding borders also attended, including officers from Pennsylvania. Virginia, Kentucky and Maryland. A representative from Indiana also was on hand.

To the left of Hacker's casket was a floral arrangement of the West Virginia State Police's familiar green triangle.

Hacker's hat rested by his hands at the center of the casket, and an American flag folded in a triangle laid beside his head.

A sea of dark green uniforms covered the center of the gym, each trooper sporting spit-shined shoes and carrying the trademark hat with which Hacker took so much pride.

"Larry was spit-shined from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet," said Blevins, Hacker's training officer.

"That uniform did not make Larry a trooper; Larry made the uniform," Blevins said, adding, "He exemplified what a trooper is."

The Rev. Mark Minney said Hacker's "untimely death has shocked this community." He added, "I had a great deal of respect for this young man." Minney said Hacker was more than a law enforcement officer wearing a uniform. He believed strongly in the values of family and faith.

"I'm grateful to the Lord this afternoon this man was ready," the preacher said. Blevins, also a minister, said it was the Lord's strength that enabled him to eulogize his friend. "With my own strength, I couldn't do this," he said, looking over the large crowd. "Larry would be proud to see the great number of people to honor him at his death."

Blevins said he spent many hours talking with Hacker about family, hunting and fishing and life in general. "Larry changed a lot of people's lives. No one could ever meet Larry and not be his friend."

Blevins said love of the outdoors was a large portion of Hacker's life. Hacker didn't blanch at a plateful of squirrel brains and he loved to go hunting and fishing with his Dad. "Every deer season - that was the highlight of his life."
Blevins said if Hacker had a regret, it was the long hours that kept him away from his family.

The trooper said Hacker was a proud Christian and a devout Baptist. "It seems like Larry was in the prime of his life. But, it is far better to live on Heaven's side than to live here," Blevins said, adding that assurance gives him peace in Hacker's death.

"I know where Larry is ... but I'm going to miss Larry. I'm going to miss his long stories," Blevins said. "All you had to do was mention Gilmer County and fish, and he was off on a tangent."

Blevins closed the service with a poem titled, "A Part of America Died." Its verses included, "Somebody killed a policeman today. A part of America died ... The beat that he worked was a battlefield, too, just like he went off to war

Above, Diane Hacker, widow of slain state police Trooper Larry G. Hacker, and their youngest daughter, Julia, are escorted from the cemetery Monday by Sgt. David Deak. Below, uniformed police officers line the burial plot of Trooper Hacker on a wooded hillside In rural Gilmer County.