Family, Friends & Fellow Officers Remember...

Sheriff Roger David Coursey

Hinsdale County Sheriff's Office, Colorado

End of Watch Friday, November 18, 1994

Leave a Reflection

Reflections for Sheriff Roger David Coursey

Hello Sheriff Coursey, I’m a police officer and I haven’t been in the best spirits recently and I’m considering walking away from the profession. I went hiking with a friend earlier and talked to him about what was going on in the world and how I was losing my motivation to be in this profession. Then I came across your headstone which is close to the trail. On the back it has “The beneath the badge inscription”. I read this and it made me feel a sense of peace, love and understanding. Thank you so much brother....I cant even begin to express the timing of this and know much it meant to me during this time. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice.

Officer Redmond

August 28, 2020

Rest in peace Sheriff Coursey.

Rabbi Lewis S. Davis

April 16, 2020

Roger 1974

Gentlest of earthsounds
So many unpacked evenings
So clearly the Best

Jane

Wuchinich, M.D.
Lover

July 17, 2019

I remember you working at the Moab, Utah Police Department. You were the step father of my husbands cousin's wife and we had dinner with you a few times. You sold us life insurance before moving to Colorado. You will be greatly missed.

Mother in Law of Office Richard Allred
Moab City Police Department

July 8, 2019

Hey Roger,
You and I worked together serving the citizens of Mesa County. I'll never forget our long talks after taking calls while working graveyard shifts together. I'll never forget working with you at the academy, teaching future officers. I'll never forget the phone call informing me of your sacrifice. I know where you are, and I know I will see you again. You're friend,
Robert.

Robert Schwinn
Mesa County Sheriff's Department.

June 16, 2019

Hello Roger,

Toby, Delta Academy, Fall 1991.
You were my mentor, my hero, my teacher. You had a great sense of humor. You were fast, smart and handsome. You were a good family man. I think about you a lot. I hope that wherever you are, you are well and doing good work. We could use you and a lot of people like you back here in Colorado and evil knows no holiday. A big hug to you old friend. Until we meet again.

Toby LNU
SAD SOG

June 25, 2017

I held the rank of undersheriff in Hinsdale County prior to Roger's appointment as sheriff of this county. I had resigned to take a position with another southern Colorado law enforcement agency. Recently I wrote a book about my Hinsdale S/O service, and a portion of it discusses Roger's tragic demise. Below are my reflections of Hinsdale Sheriff Roger Coursey:

MY REFLECTIONS OF HINSDALE SHERIFF ROGER COURSEY:

I had never met officer Roger Coursey in person. He joined the Hinsdale County Sheriff’s Department after my move southwest to the La Plata County Sheriff's Department. I have, however, learned more about the man through my readings of available writings of others.

Roger and I were the same age. We both held a dream of working on a rural department far from the city lights. We were both cops with a strong sense of duty and justice, ready to serve the county citizenry at a moment’s notice, putting aside fear, living under the dedication expressed by John Wayne, when he said, “Courage is being scared to death … and saddling up anyway.” It comes with the territory. We were cops.

When Roger got the call of suspects heading north from Creede, he left the safety of his home and wife Karen, “saddled up”, and set out to apprehend those who would harm others. He was living in Lake City with his wife, just as I was, but that day, he never returned home. It was his actions, along with those of the undersheriff, that brought the suspects to a halt.

I was living in the mountains west of Durango, in a new home I had built at 7,000 feet, when news of Roger’s passing reached me. My wife looked at me in shock as we listened to the sketchy details of the 1994 incident on television. She told me that had I decided to run for sheriff, as many folks wanted me to do, I would have been the one answering the call that day. She would have been waiting at home as Karen did.

Of course, second guessing alternate life paths can be a disturbing exercise, as there is no way to ever know how it would have played out. Yet, she aroused some troubling mental visions for us both. Had I then chosen to remain with the department, I would have either been the sheriff, in which case Roger probably would never have been here, or I would have stayed on as undersheriff, in which case I would have been Roger’s second in command. What could have been is not what was, but the conjecture still rises up despite our logical attempts to subdue it.

I cannot even imagine the anguish suffered by my wife had I been in Roger’s boots. Such a day is the nightmare scenario of every cop’s wife. The moment of it happening is not known to the spouse, and only later must a co-worker share the devastating news for her ears to hear, as she answers the door innocently enough, but then realizes something dreadfully wrong has occurred, panic coldly seizing her body and mind.

It wasn’t possible for us to hear of this lawman’s death in the line of duty without deeply analyzing the other paths life might have taken. This includes the alternate path the Coursey family’s life would have also taken based on my decision to transfer from one department to another. Roger and Karen would likely still be on their “honeymoon from beginning to end” as she verbalized their relationship at his funeral. The two would have been married for 37 years by now.

My wife and mom were relieved that I had left Hinsdale County when I did, but I think of another wife and mom on the other side of the coin, and I cry for them, having walked in the same boots as chosen by Roger, in a profession where every new day brings a complete uncertainty as to what will unfold. When a lawman dedicates his life to the protection of others, there are no guarantees of any kind. What seems like a peaceful little mountain community can become a nightmare of regret that savagely alters lives forever.

Karen is also reported to have said that Roger would have helped the two troubled suspects had he been given the chance, a truism I completely embrace, as helping others was the major reason I entered law enforcement originally in 1973. When asked in the interview my motivation for joining the force, that is precisely what I told them more than four decades ago. From this, it is my belief that Roger and I must have shared many of the same traits, one of which is seeking to trust the good side of people, but this can be one’s undoing. It is a fine balance, hard to walk.

So Roger, I never knew you, but we were part of the brotherhood of lawmen who put risk aside to do the necessary work of helping people. I salute you my departed friend, and your wife Karen. Farewell …

Steve Greene, former Undersheriff
Hinsdale County Sheriff's Department

March 31, 2016

Rodger, It has been over twenty years now but I still think of you often. You are missed my friend.

Deputy Marshal Tim Wiginton
Red River Marshals Office

May 27, 2015

Roger was a great Instructor and a model Law Enforcement Officer. I miss him still to this day.

Lieutenant Darren Fay
Federal Law Enforcement

March 25, 2015

How many times have I gone over the events of that awful morning 20 years ago? How many times have I wondered how different our lives would have been like if you were still alive? How many times have I thought about and missed my teacher, my mentor, my partner and my friend? As indicated on these pages, your life also touched many others in a positive way. That is the type of person you were - very special. You will always live with us in spirit.

Ray Blaum
Partner & Friend

November 18, 2014

Today is the 20 year anniversary. It has been 20 years since your life was cut way to short. Please be with Grandma, Justin and everyone else today as it will be hard for them to know that you've been gone for so long, but I know they still remember it like it was yesterday. You will always be remember and your life will be celebrated not just on this date but everyday because your achievements, your sense of humor, absolutely everything about you deserves that kind of recognization. You were a wonderful man and Justin looked up to you so much. I'm so glad he got the time with you that he did, you taught him a lot. Thank you for being you.

Amy Stephens
Granddaughter

November 18, 2014

Roger, It has been a long time. I still remember when I heard the news all those years ago. You always had the best advice for all of us, Roger goes home. You were one of the best instructors I ever had in my law enforcement career. You may be gone but you are not forgotten.

Jefferson Baker

October 26, 2014

Well here we are brother, almost twenty years since you left us. I thought I would take a minute and let you know that I made it to the end and after thirty two years I was able to retire from the job. It was a nice send off from our old friends and co-workers. So many showed up but the originals that we worked with Dan, Rich, Clark, Brian, Kent, Kerrie, Doug, Roxie, were able to make it. It was so great to see all of them and catch up on where live has taken them

You couldn't make it and I understand that, but you were there in spirit. I have talked to you in my dreams so many times since I left the job. I'm not quite sure what you've been trying to tell me, maybe that you are proud. Just remember that you are one of the reasons I made it so long and I thank you for your guidance.

I received so many cards and one of my most cherished was from Karen. I plan on stopping by and seeing her on my next trip over to Grand Junction. Yvette and I will be traveling to Lake City this year to do some camping, so I will stop by and say "Hi". Until then. Love ya Brother.

Lt. Scott Mallon (Ret.)
Moab City Police Dept.

May 15, 2014

I was a police officer living in Missouri at the time and spent several summers in the Hinsdale-Mineral County areas growing up. I had spoken with Sheriff Coursey within a week prior to the incident. The conversation was about my application to the Hinsdale County SO. I had then come back from vacation only to hear the horrible story. I made my way back to Lake City during the investigation, mainly to express my condolences and partly to see what, if anything I could do. What I found was a small town that had every right to be skeptical of outoftowners/strangers, instead, once they knew what I was, welcomed me with open arms. Unfortunately the hiring was already completed in order to expedite the investigation (understandable). But I will never forget the resolve and the strength of that small town. 20 years later, in my continued profession, I think of it often and miss it as well. Continued prayers to the family and friends of a fallen brother.

Detective GT Unterreiner
Montgomery County Sheriff's Office (TX)

November 26, 2013

I was an intern for KREX-TV in Grand Junction when this shooting happened. I covered the story and think of Sheriff Coursey often especially as I drive through that part of Colorado.
Dan Marries
KOLD News 13
Tucson, AZ

None
KOLD News 13

May 22, 2012

Rest in Peace, Sheriff Coursey. Your sacrifice is not forgotten.

Officer 11169

January 26, 2012

roger, you were my academy instructor, my teacher, my hero, my friend. i think of you every day and miss you so much. i miss your smile, your laugh, your compassion, and friendship. i carry a piece of you inside me, so you're never too far away. my son was born the day you left us, and i believe your souls touched in passing. he too is an honest, loyal, and compassionate man, and his middle name is roger, for you. thank you for coming into my life, and being exactly who you were. love you always

barb cogger smith
former officer, telluride marshal's department

November 18, 2011

Grandpa though we haven't officially met I know you are missed dearly by everybody here. 17 years ago a life was cruely taken from us and though justice wasn't necessarily served your memory will live on forever. We love you!

Amy Stephens
Grandson's Wife

November 18, 2011

Grandpa on this 17th anniversary of your untimely death I just want yoou to remember we all love you and think about you everyday of our lives.

Justin Stephens
Grandson

November 18, 2011

Rog, Family and Friends,
Not sure how to start this reflection, Rog, but first with an offering and prayer that your family will be safe and take solitude in that you shared a passion for keeping the evil element at bay from decent people. As a member of the Wyoming Highway Patrol and you working for the Green River, Wyoming PD and later for the Wyoming AG's office with Del, Lorraine and others, we made a great team. My former wife finally forgave you for following me home, after my shift on the Rock Springs-Green River stretch, to have me change my clothes so we could persue the "bandits". You had an uncanty sense of knowing where we could find them. Burglars, dopers, livestock rustlers....we did them all.
While at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy in Douglas two very funny things happened. One morning you had a false eye on, (the academy chief, Captain Nemo had one eye) and you were in front on the class lecturing us and mimicking Captain Nemo while he was standing directly behind you. I never laughed so hard. Nemo had just scolded you and I for spending time in Casper nights buying dope and turning the crooks over to the Casper PD. We both had State authority but Nemo said the Casper PD chief said we were making his guys look bad. And where did you ever get that pig mask you wore to graduation? Loved every minute.
I've wanted to visit with Karen and your kids and grand children, but until recently it would have been nearly impossible to do so. Even writing this is difficult. Forgive me.
By now Rog you have probably been reunited with my little sister Carolyn who recently passed away and who was a close friend of yours while she was in Cheyenne. When I saw her for the last time, she gave me a couple of chauk drawings and asked me to look after them. Hopefully I can find Karen and she can pass them on to your children or grand children for safe keeping. Bet they didn't know you were a talented artist also.
Well Rog, I was broken hearted when my former wife, Theo, called and said that bottle of champagne the you, Flipovich and I bought for the last man standing was mine. What an emptiness I felt just as you voiced to me when we went to visit Flip at Pete Vase's Mortuary.
In closing, I would ask our Heavenly Father to watch over your family and those who protect us everyday, and especially those like you who have given all that others may complete our short visit on Earth. Rest in Peace my Friend.

Patrolman Russ Lyman
Wyoming Highway Patrol

October 2, 2011

Grandpa,
I know I don't get on here enough to say hi and give you updates, but I know you see everything. I know you are looking over all of your friends and loved ones. Grandma sure misses you just as we all do. I know if you could be here now you would. We all love you so much and I know you are near to our hearts each and every day. I have this poster I made for you and on there is a saying "Gone but never forgotten" and I know it is so very true because there isn't a day that goes by that you aren't thought about or remembered by someone. It's really hard to make and impact on as many people as you did, but you did it. Anyone can as any one of the officers that you worked with and all of them will say that you were a good officer. From reading all the good things everyone has to say about you whether they were a realitive, a coworker, or just a friend they will say you were a good man. So many times I say I wish I could've gotten to know you, but instead of wishing I can just listen to stories and it's almost like I did know you. Your family is so great to me and now that me and Justin are married I am your family. I love you and I know people will say it's impossible to love someone you don't know but it's not. I know you are there with my grandpa and you made him feel like he was home. I want to remind you it is his birthday on sunday so do me a favor and give him a hard time for me ok. From what people tell me thats what you do. Remember you are very missed but we all know you are happy where you are and we will meet someday.

Forever and Always,
Amy M. Stephens

Amy Stephens
Grandson's Wife

June 24, 2011

I was a Law Enforcement training student of his in 1993 at the Delta-Montrose Votech. After 17 years I still find myself remembering Roger as an awesome instructor and person. I was very saddened by his death and will never forget what a kind and amazing person he was. I hope his family was able to heal and move forward. I know they too will never forget how truly blessed they were to have had him in their lives as well.

Thank you Roger for serving your community in many ways. You are and will always be remembered.

Sarah (Hughes) Ashpaugh
Former Student

June 11, 2011

Roger was a good friend, and I miss him. What I remeber best is his sense of humor and love of his family. He was a great cop, brave and intelligent, but I remember him most as a person, and friend.

Bill Davis
Former News Editor, Moab Times-Independent

January 24, 2011

Think of you often my friend. Will always remember the impact you had on me and my family.

Jery Sharpe
Friend

November 18, 2010

Just a little note that I'm thinking about you and your family today. You first touched my life in the fall of 92 in the academy. You have touched the lives of many and for that we are all better people. Thanks for watching my 6. May God bless you and your family.

589

Trooper Tom Bostelman
Nevada Highway Patrol

November 18, 2010

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