Officer Randy Bartow remembered as a man of humor, compassion | Lancaster Eagle Gazette
LOGAN — From a 9 a.m. briefing in Lancaster to an 11 a.m. service at the Logan Church of the Nazarene to the burial at Greenlawn Cemetery in Nelsonville, the friends and family of deceased Lancaster Police Officer Randy Bartow dedicated miles and hours to honoring his memory Saturday.
Many used the drive to reflect on their lost friend.
“I kind of chuckled when we were driving up here,” Bartow’s former partner, Kevin Everhart, said.
“Leave it to Randy to find a cemetery back in this location. That’s just the way Randy was, he was a prankster. (During the drive) I was just kind of reminiscing on some of the good times that we had.”
Everhart, now retired, spoke at the service, focusing on many of the pranks that he and Bartow shared in their time in the narcotics unit. Everhart told those gathered that the always well-mannered Bartow was the only man he knew who ended undercover drug deals by saying, “Thank you sir, have a nice day.”
Bartow, 56, was shot and killed early Tuesday morning while off-duty. Police say Kevin Adams, 40, shot Bartow and his ex-wife, Stephanie Adams, 38, before turning the gun on himself in a domestic dispute at Stephanie Adams’ home.
Everhart gave the last of three eulogies to Bartow, following Lancaster Police Chief Dave Bailey and Communication Technician Jan Sheppard.
Sheppard, too, spoke of the practical jokes and playful fibs from “the brother I never had.”
“There have been so many memories that flooded my head,” she said. “Randy was an ordained minister and he was blind in one eye — those were some of the things he told us in the radio room, and there were some of us who believed him.”
Sheppard laughed at her own naiveté and tendency to fall victim to Bartow’s jokes as the nearly 400 people at the church laughed with her.
Everhart was glad that those mourning were able to find humor during the service, he said, and thought that his friend would have appreciated it.
“He was laughing at us; trust me,” he said. “That’s the way Randy was. He tried to find humor in everything.”
Although Bailey also spoke of the humorous nature of Bartow, he focused on the numerous awards the officer had received. Because of Randy’s private nature, Bailey referred to them as the man’s “hidden side.”
Bartow was twice named Officer of the Year in Lancaster, received the Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce’s Brett Markwood Award and served in the United States Marines Reserve and Ohio National Guard prior to joining the police force. Had he been there to do so, Bartow would have deflected the praise for his accomplishments onto others, Bailey said.
Bartow worked as an officer in Logan and Nelsonville prior to joining the Lancaster department and remained a Logan resident.
Bailey said that Bartow was beloved by the entire department and thanked the Fairfield County Sheriff’s office both at the morning briefing and during his eulogy for handling Lancaster’s law enforcement during the service. He thanked various other area law enforcement agencies for their support as well.
The work of those departments allowed a caravan of police cruisers to travel in unison from the station to the church in Logan. Though they had the most officers present, Lancaster was not the only law enforcement agency represented at the funeral. Officers from Lithopolis, Baltimore, Columbus, Logan, Pickerington and Hocking County were in attendance, among others.
Logan Chief of Police Aaron Miller, who worked one year with Bartow, was not surprised that so many people in the law enforcement community felt compelled to pay their respects.
“Randy was equally as highly thought of with the Logan Police Department,” he said. “Just a wonderful community spirit, I can’t say enough about him. He touched everyone. With all of the different details and duties and tasks that he performed, he had contact with these other organizations. I think all of them were equally impressed with all his efforts.”
Most of those officers stood at attention through spitting rain as Bartow’s casket was transported to the hearse and again at the grave site while the remaining members of the force served as pallbearers. The police officers stood six rows deep at Greenlawn Cemetery below an American flag lowered to half mast with a somber black bow affixed to its corner.
Officer John Hill, an 18-year veteran of the Lancaster Police Department, was among the law enforcement in their dress uniforms and at attention while five bagpipers and three drummers commemorated Bartow with “Amazing Grace”.
He said that with Bartow, the cliché was genuine.
“Randy was unlike most people,” Hill said. “He was very sincere; he would do anything for anybody regardless of what it would cost him. You can say this about a lot of people and it’s not always meant, that he would give you the shirt of his back, but with Randy he most definitely would do that.”
Bartow was also known for giving people the shirt out of his pocket. In his time as a police officer he developed a habit of forming dollar bills into origami shirts and giving them to individuals he encountered whose day needed a lift.
Everhart saw Bartow distribute many of those shirts throughout their time together as partners, though was never able to master the intricate folding himself, he said. All three eulogies contained anecdotes about the mementos.
Because of the type of person Bartow was, Everhart said he suspects most of those dollar-bill shirts are still folded away somewhere.
“He leaves such a lasting impression because of the type of person he was,” Everhart said. “Randy and I were so close. I consider him as much my brother as my biological brothers are and so does my family.”
The Lancaster Police Department did some folding of their own to conclude the funeral. The flag that rested on Bartow’s casket throughout the service was carefully folded according to protocol and Bailey presented it to the deceased officer’s family in order to honor the man who wore badge No. 91.
Given his humble nature and ability to find joy in all aspects of life, Everhart said that the hour-long service in Logan and final ceremony in Nelsonville was probably more than enough in Bartow’s mind.
“He was such an individual that didn’t want the glory so he was sitting there saying, ‘Enough is enough, go on home,’” Everhart said. “He’s not the type that would want to dwell on sorrow, he just wasn’t like that. It’s like, ‘Get yourself up, brush yourself off and get on with life.’ That’s exactly what he is saying right now, ‘It’s done, come on. You’ve got life to live, live it.’”
That living started with the drive home.