ATWOOD — Kosciusko County’s longest-serving sheriff was remembered Tuesday for his calm demeanor, his ability to connect with people and a desire to solve problems.
Cassius Alan Rovenstine, whose last name has been synonymous with county law enforcement and Republican politics for decades, died on Oct. 10. He was 81.
Several hundred people, including more than two dozen law enforcement officials and numerous former and current elected leaders, attended Rovenstine’s funeral service at the Atwood Community Center Tuesday morning.
Rovenstine’s work in the county sheriff’s department spanned three decades, including 16 years as sheriff. Over the years he was honored for his work as a fireman and as a leader in the county Republican Party. He was also a recipient of the governor’s Sagamore of the Wabash award.
Despite the many achievements, though, Pastor John B. Lowe said Rovenstine will be remembered for his private acts of generosity and his compassion.
“He moved the dial of goodness,” Lowe said.
Lowe worked with Rovenstine over the years and said he was struck by Rovenstine’s honest, simple persona. Humility, he said, was woven into his character.
While Rovenstine helped shape law enforcement — he had a hand in two major jail projects and established the work release program — he also played a role in the community.
Rovenstine was a founding board member of Beaman Home, a shelter for victims of abuse. He was also remembered as a big supporter of Our Father’s House, an organization that helps low-income people.
Those who knew him well saw a personable approach that allowed him to connect with people.
Some of those who spoke told of Rovestine’s love of simple pleasures like fresh tomatoes, fishing on the Tippecanoe River and being with his family.
More than one person said that Rovenstine, the father of three and grandfather of seven, rarely if ever told people that he loved them.
“Yet, he was full of love. My grandpa was patient and he was kind. He didn’t envy … he was not selfish or easily provoked,” said Austin Rovenstine, a grandson. “He treated everyone equally whether they were a United States Senator or an inmate in the jail.”
Austin Rovenstine recalled a story about a man who had barricaded himself inside a house with a gun and how his grandfather presented himself unarmed, entered the house and disarmed the situation peacefully. Lowe also said he heard of similar stories about Rovenstine’s ability to de-escalate a crisis.
People who heard those stories often cast Al Rovenstine as a hero, which he rejected. Heroes need villains, but in some cases, there are no villains, Austin Rovenstine explained.
“When my grandpa was sheriff, there were no villains. There were only people with varying degrees of faults, but people nonetheless,” Austin said.
Aaron Rovenstine, Al’s son, also served as sheriff. He recalled that he followed in many of his father’s footsteps outside of law enforcement, including a love of Indiana University basketball, sports and fishing.
He said his father placed a value on developing close relationships.
Aaron talked about how his father had the heart of a public servant and how his “quiet, calm” personality helped shape his leadership abilities.
“What a wonderful example for all of us,” Aaron said.