Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
By Margie Wuebker
Former sheriff dies
Former Auglaize County Sheriff Larry Longsworth lost his battle with cancer Monday afternoon at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. He was 62.
A soft-spoken man with a laid-back demeanor, Longsworth spent more than three decades in law enforcement. He first served as a member of the sheriff's auxiliary because at the age of 20, he was too young to serve as a deputy.
Sheriff Jim Knoch hired him seven months later and he served as a road deputy on the 4-11 p.m. shift until becoming a detective in 1981. He became sheriff in 1989.
During his four terms in office, the sheriff served as the "spark plug" for creation of the Grand Lake Task Force, Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey said. Also under his guidance, the DARE program was brought to each school district in the county and the Special Response Team was created at the sheriff's office.
"Larry spearheaded the task force and that's why to this very day Auglaize County is the grand holder and handles finances," Grey said. "He saw drugs as a problem in Mercer and Auglaize counties, and he had a vision for attacking the problem."
Longsworth also served as a mentor during Grey's first years as sheriff.
"He had a quiet, laid-back approach, but he knew the ins and outs of being a county sheriff," Grey said. "A lot of new sheriffs in the area also considered him a mentor."
Longsworth also was a welcome adviser during planning for the Mercer County Detention Facility. He knew the headaches and concerns, having supervised the construction and opening of a new 70-bed facility in Auglaize County in 1998.
After four terms, he retired in 2005. Al Solomon won the seat and continues to serve as sheriff.
"I have seen people stay in a job too long," Longsworth said for a newspaper article days before his retirement. "I love what I do, but I have lost some of the enthusiasm the last several years. Al still has the enthusiasm to succeed."
The two men had worked together since 1979, and Solomon recalls the advice Longsworth gave him the first night they rode together in a cruiser.
"Larry broke me in," he said. "He told me 'Al, no matter how unimportant a call may seem to us, remember that call is extremely important to the caller.' The public always came first with Larry."
Following retirement, Longsworth tended to wetlands he created on his property. He enjoyed traveling, waterfowl hunting, the Cincinnati Reds and being outdoors.
Surviving with his wife Janice and his father Robert are a son, a daughter, two brothers and two grandchildren.
His obituary appears in today's paper.
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