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Correctional Officer Given Final Farewell

April 16, 2011, 5:53 PM by Nicole Winters

Correctional Officer Given Final Farewell
SIOUX FALLS, SD - More than 1,000 people paid their respects to a South Dakota man who spent his life protecting others by guarding some of the state's most dangerous criminals.

Funeral services were held Saturday at the Ramkota for 63-year-old senior Correctional Officer Ron Johnson, who authorities say was killed this week by two inmates trying to escape the prison.

"We all know it can happen when we put our colors on, it only takes an instant then one of us is gone," Major Stever Baker read in the Eulogy.

A prayer to remember senior correctional officer RJ Johnson is a sad reminder of the dangers those who wear a uniform face.

"Day to day we walk our beat, in God we put our faith, cause we're the law inside the wall, we keep the public safe," Baker read in the Eulogy.

Hundreds of people, many who have never met him, those who knew him well and several who worked alongside him, packed together to pay their last respects to a man who dedicated his life to keeping others safe.

"Officer RJ Johnson was a terrific corrections officer by anyone's definition, he was loyal, compassionate and always fare and caring person," Pastor Loren Odland said. 

Those words from South Dakota Penitentiary Warden Doug Weber, read aloud by Odland. The Warden expressed his deepest sympathies and just how much Johnson touched the lives of those around him.

"The inmate population liked and respected Ron a great deal, the staff is grieving, and is missing him terribly," Odland said.

Johnson's family tells their favorite memories about the husband and father through the pastor, many of which are full of laughter.

"We all knew he wished he could do all those moves just like Jen, baby got back," Odland said.

The stories make many smile, but heavy hearts quickly bring back the tears. And as the ceremony ends and his flag draped casket is wheeled out, it's a reminder that a uniform once worn proudly will never be worn again.

"You've done the job that few can do, your shift is at an end," Baker read in the Eulogy.

A career and life ended too soon, but one that won't be forgotten for everything he's done.

"Farewell my brother, rest in peace, on you we could depend," Baker read in the Eulogy.

Officer Johnson was killed during an attempted prison escape on his 63rd birthday.

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