Police chief lauds fellow officer’s generosity, ‘stellar’ career at service
Greg Assenmacher’s life was enough to move the Rev. Edmundo Valera to test the boundaries of decorum and description.
Valera, who conducted a funeral service for the 54-year-old Grand Junction Police Department commander Monday, listened to a list of Assenmacher’s accomplishments, from working as a school resource officer to shedding fresh light on unsolved murders.
“You raised a heckuva son,” Valera told Assenmacher’s mother, Joanne, then quickly took into account Assenmacher’s law enforcement career and added, “You raised a heckuva son of a gun.”
Assenmacher, who joined the Grand Junction Police Department in 1982 after moving to Grand Junction from Detroit, died Tuesday at home after a workout.
More than 1,200 people filled the auditorium at Fellowship Church to pay respects to Assenmacher, who was buried at Orchard Mesa Cemetery.
Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper, who described Assenmacher’s career as “stellar,” told mourners that Assenmacher would receive the department’s Award of Excellence, a decision he made May 29, 2012, and that he would establish the department’s eponymous Greg Assenmacher Community Service Award with the first recipient being Assenmacher.
Camper, who recalled meeting Assenmacher when he arrived 3 1/2 years ago, said he learned Assenmacher was generous and hardworking.
“Gandhi could have worked on a project with Greg and felt like a slacker,” Camper said.
Assenmacher’s untimely death “raises so many questions,” Valera said. “Why was this good bottle of wine, so to speak, not given his chance to realize his full vintage?”
There is no answer to that question, he said.
“There is so much of life and death that is mysterious,” Valera said.
For his wife, Deletha, the word “virtue” could be summed up easily.
“I define it as Greg,” she said.
Assenmacher made the most of his time, said his friend, Greg Martin, who remembered that Assenmacher told him he wanted to be a school resource officer to improve the life of at least one student.
He and Assenmacher recently ran into one of the students Assenmacher had mentored, learning that things were going well for the young man, Martin said.
“He wanted to make a difference in one child’s life and I believe he did,” Martin said.
Assenmacher reveled in being known as “Uncle Buck” to his nieces and nephews, and he enjoyed the Barney Fife character of fictional Mayberry enough that the background music to the “Andy Griffith Show” played as mourners entered.
Nudging at his brother’s propensity for long-winded tales, Dennis Assenmacher told the mourners, “To make a long story short, the world is and will be a better place because of Greg.”
Law enforcement organizations from around the state participated in the funeral, including units from the Grand Junction Police Department, Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, Grand Junction Fire Department, Fruita and Palisade police departments, several federal and state agencies and the Lakewood Police Department Honor Guard.
In addition to his mother and wife, Assenmacher is survived by three daughters, Haley and Madison, and Michaela Graber. His other siblings include brothers Paul, John and Lee, and a sister, Karen Assenmacher.
Memorial contributions to the Haley and Madison Assenmacher Fund may be made at any Wells Fargo Bank or to the Western Slope Center for Children, 259 Grand Ave., Grand Junction 81501.