Port Townsend Police Reserve Sgt. David Winegar, who died last month, was remembered this weekend for his devotion as an officer, a longtime county employee and a loving father.
A procession of law enforcement vehicles flashed their lights on their way to a memorial service for Winegar at Fort Worden on Jan. 4.
Members of the Port Townsend Police, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and Washington State Patrol accompanied Winegar’s family to the Fort Worden Commons.
County Commissioner Kate Dean, Winegar’s former sister-in-law, described him as “a quiet guy” who nonetheless “touched a lot of lives,” which she said was evident in the number of people at his memorial.
“There are hundreds of people in this room who worked with Dave, sat in the bleachers at countless sporting events with him, and responded to radio calls and emergencies with him,” said Dean, who described the family she and Winegar shared as “a many-trunked tree, with multiple parents, children, partners and in-laws, and he loved us all.”
Karen Idstrom, Winegar’s mother, remarked upon the day’s clear skies as perfect for her son’s habit of sitting outside, on a deck or a patio, to enjoy the sun.
“There are no words to express how we feel,” Karen Idstrom said. “We each remember him in our own ways. He was quiet, gentle and loving. He loved Port Townsend, and he loved the people here.”
Winegar’s stepfather, Tom Idstrom, praised him for giving “the greatest gift,” his time, for his two sons, Nico and Nate Winegar.
“Those kinds of moments last forever,” Tom Idstrom said. “The core values they instill determine who and what we are and will last a lifetime.”
David Winegar’s uncle, Rick Winegar, was joined by David’s stepmother, Bel Winegar. Both noted David’s father passed away two years before.
While Rick recalled watching David grow up as a boy with “beautiful eyes” and a smile befitting his “warm heart,” Bel noted she first met David when he was already in his teens.
“I didn’t get to spend as much time with David as an adult, but I caught glimpses of what was going on in his life through Facebook,” Rick said. “It’s neat how we can still stay in contact with people, and peek in on them from across the country.”
Bel knew David as a man “of not a lot of words,” but who “worked hard” and built up a network of friends and extended family members.
“He treated me as part of the family,” said Bel, who’d heard enough stories from David about his own children to share her insights with them. Bel told Nico he’d inherited his father’s athletic skills and praised Nate for his “dynamic personality,” while also noting how David’s daughter, Ashlee Bahl, followed her father’s footsteps into law enforcement.
“Your dad loved you,” Bel told David’s three children before she told David’s spirit that she loved him and “I’m going to miss you, but we’ll meet again some day.”
Anne Dean, David Winegar’s former wife, noted that, “despite our marriage ending, we maintained a friendship and a closeness” as “dedicated co-parents” to their two boys.
“Our No. 1 goal was to raise good human beings who are able to be who they’re meant to be,” Anne Dean said.
Anne told Ashlee how much her father “adored” her, sharing how “seeing you in uniform was one of his proudest moments,” before she told Nico, “You remind me of your father, in your stoic side” and “eidetic memory,” just as she credited Nate with “carrying your dad’s smile and sense of humor,” as well as David’s purported skills at Xbox.
“You were your dad’s world, his greatest accomplishments in life, and his purest, truest loves,” Anne Dean told all three of Winegar’s children.
Heather Le Due, Winegar’s partner for the past eight years, stepped to the podium with her three daughters, all of whom said Winegar was “like a father” to them, La Due recounted how she and Winegar first met through her work with JeffCom 911.
La Due admitted she was “kind of stubborn,” since she’d known Winegar for two years before she went on a date with him, but a well-cooked meal of steak impressed her with his apparent culinary skills, especially since she ordinarily doesn’t care for steak.
“Here I’d met this guy who was funny, kind and could cook,” La Due said. “Only I found out later that steak was the only thing he could cook.”
La Due called Winegar “my forever person” and noted his passing from a heart attack at home Dec. 22 was “the first day in eight years I didn’t get a text or a phone call from him.”
Sara McIntyre worked with Winegar for 16 years in the county’s information technology department, “so close that the papers on my desk would be blown when he sighed.” She recounted a number of his humorous idiosyncrasies, including the “awful” haircuts he occasionally gave himself.
“I’ll miss his friendly banter,” McIntyre said. “He was up for most anything, especially if food was involved. When he interviewed for his job with the county, he was wearing this horrible blue suit. His interview performance was less than impressive, but his resume told us he had what we needed. Years later, we reminded him of that interview, and he said, ‘What do you mean? I nailed it!’”
While McIntyre laughed about the ways in which Winegar’s last name was mispronounced during his 16 years with the county, she turned more serious as she said, “We called him 829. We called him family.”
The 829 was Winegar’s badge number with the Port Townsend Police, and the department’s Sgt. Garin Williams and Chief Mike Evans joined in offering tributes.
Williams choked back tears to make Winegar’s mourners laugh at how the two of them had pranked each other’s teenage sons, as well as at Winegar’s deadpan reactions to some of the bizarre calls he was sent on.
Williams also emphasized how Winegar “was happier for me than I was” when Williams got his own patrol car, even though it had been Winegar’s.
“The Port Townsend Police Department is a very small agency,” Williams said. “It was always nice to have 829 call in for service.”
Evans noted the similarities between himself and Winegar as somewhat shy, non-talkative fathers who did stints as stay-at-home dads in between calls, whose wives arranged social outings for them and picked out their civilian clothes.
“We were not fashionable guys,” Evans said. “Still, we felt like school kids. We even asked, ‘When do we get our lunch boxes?’”
Evans pointed out how Winegar’s IT skills served him well in the police department, “and he always let us think the problems were with the computers, even though they were usually with the users.”
Evans turned serious as he cited Winegar’s commitment to duty and ability to de-escalate a situation, as well as the support Winegar lent to Evans off-duty, when Evans was coping with a difficult surgery.
“Dave had the warrior spirit,” Evans said. “Our badges cover our hearts, but they’re not for us. They’re to shield the person next to us.”
Evans praised Winegar for “extending his badge” to shield his police partners and the victims of crimes alike before he and Williams presented flags to Winegar’s three children.
The ceremony concluded with audio from Winegar’s final call out of duty from JeffCom Dispatch.