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An officer, and a gentleman

POSTED: January 3, 2013 7:01 p.m.
Photo by Paul Floeckher/

Rincon Police Chief Phillip Scholl looks on as Sgt. Jose Ramirez talks about his friend and fellow officer Cpl. Dennis Badger, who died Saturday following a long battle with cancer. Scholl, Ramirez and all Rincon police officers are wearing black bands on their badges in Badger’s honor.

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Cpl. Dennis Badger’s colleagues in law enforcement remember him as someone who always wanted to help others.


“His heart was as big as this building,” Rincon Police Chief Phillip Scholl said Thursday as he addressed members of the media in the Rincon City Council chambers.


“He cared for everybody,” Scholl continued. “If you needed anything, he was there for you.”


Those who worked with him say Badger’s zest for life and desire to serve the community never waned, even as he fought colon cancer. He continued to work for the Rincon Police Department even though his cancer was already in stage four when it was diagnosed four years ago.


“He fought it and fought it and fought it,” Scholl said. “He was a fighter ‘til the end. A lot of people didn’t know he actually had the disease because he was such a fighter.”


Badger lost his valiant battle Saturday. He died under hospice care at the age of 57.


Visitation will be today from 5-7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Rincon. Badger’s funeral will be Saturday at 11 a.m. at First Baptist, followed by a procession to Effingham Memorial Gardens, led by law enforcement officers from around the area.


“Anytime you have a death in the law enforcement community, everybody feels it,” Scholl said. “Everybody knows what it’s like to lose a brother who’s in law enforcement with you.”


Sgt. Jose Ramirez worked alongside Badger in the Rincon Police Department and marveled at the work ethic he maintained while battling cancer. Even more so, he was struck by the positive outlook Badger kept even as the disease took its worst toll.


“For me, he became a father figure,” Ramirez said. “If I was having a bad day, he brought light to it. He would tell me that no situation is so bad that you need to be down about it.”


Ramirez said Badger kept that outlook to the end. He saw it when he was with Badger at hospice Friday night, the night before he died.


“Even then, he was still bringing smiles to our faces,” Ramirez said.


When Badger was no longer able to work last year, Ramirez organized a motorcycle ride to benefit his fellow officer’s family. The Nov. 10 ride, which drew 125 riders, coupled with a chili benefit lunch in October, raised more than $16,000 to help the Badger family with their medical bills and loss of income.


“That just speaks volumes for Dennis and what type of person he was and how much he meant to us,” Ramirez said.


Badger began working in local law enforcement in 1997, as a sergeant with the Springfield Police Department. After a stint with the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department, he was a deputy with the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office for two years. Badger, who also served 20 years in the Air Force, joined the Rincon Police Department in March 2005.


While Badger was a good police officer, Scholl said he was an even better family man. He is survived by his wife Loretta, a daughter, three stepdaughters and seven grandchildren.


“Dennis was a loving husband and a caring father,” Scholl said. “His family meant everything to him — his own family and his law enforcement family. There wasn’t anything that Dennis wouldn’t do for any of us.”


Although Ramirez will miss seeing his friend and fellow officer, he believes Badger will always be with Rincon police officers wherever they go.


“We can say that we have an angel looking down on us,” he said.

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