Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Police funeral planned for Holcomb

Horse-drawn caisson to carry casket during procession through Hamilton

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — In his days as a Butler County assistant prosecutor, John F. Holcomb loved riding in police cruisers to murder scenes.

        “I used to tease him that he was a frustrated police officer,” said County Commissioner Chuck Furmon, a former Hamilton police detective and supervisor.

        Mr. Holcomb, the longtime county prosecutor who died Saturday of an apparent heart attack, will receive his final but most glorious police ride today when the sheriff's horse-drawn caisson carries his casket through downtown Hamilton.

        The procession will take place after the 10 a.m. funeral service in the Presbyterian Church at 23 South Front St. In addition to the caisson and the police officers, the procession will include the sheriff's bagpipe unit and a riderless horse.

        The procession will go north on Front Street and turn east on High Street. It will pass the Key Bank building, which used to house the prosecutor's office, and will stop for a brief ceremony at the Government Services Center, where the prosecutor's office moved in January.

        Mr. Holcomb's casket will be placed in a hearse and will be taken to Miltonville Cemetery in Madison Township.

        “With his 35 years of service in law enforcement and everything he did for the county, it's only right for us to honor him in the highest way possible,” said Brad Kraemer, spokesman for the sheriff's department.

        Mr. Hol comb's son, John M. Holcomb, said the procession will be the fulfillment of one of his father's last wishes.

        “When my father talked about his funeral services,” he said, “he was very clear that he wanted the simplest sort of casket, vault and tombstone. But he really hoped for a law enforcement funeral.”

        In further tribute to Mr. Holcomb, the county's courtrooms will be closed today, with the court administrative offices open only in the afternoon.

        Butler County Sheriff Harold Don Gabbard said that he and Mr. Holcomb enjoyed a great working relationship even though they belonged to different political parties. The sheriff is a Republican and Mr. Holcomb was the only Democrat holding a countywide office.

        “Right after I became sheriff in 1993, I talked to him,” Sheriff Gabbard said. “We decided that I wouldn't do any prosecuting and he wouldn't do any sheriffing. He kept his word. We wanted to work together to make a difference for the county.”

        During his 27 years as prosecutor and eight years as assistant prosecutor, Mr. Holcomb forged a reputation as a brilliant trial attorney.


        Assistant Prosecutor Dennis Adams said Mr. Holcomb displayed an aggressive style in the courtroom.

        “His style was unique to him,” Mr. Adams said. “He was very aggressive, but he had a way with juries. He knew how to get his message across.”

        Mr. Holcomb, 63, of Hamilton, had been in bad health for the past four years.

        He was in a tough race for re-election when he died Saturday at River Downs racetrack.


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