GALENA, Ill. — Chris Allendorf has spent the past several days reflecting on the example his father, former Jo Daviess County Sheriff Steve Allendorf, gave him throughout his life.
“He had this unique ability to make friends in high places and help anyone in need,” Chris Allendorf said. “It’s kind of amazing to think now about how much he helped people.”
Steve Allendorf died suddenly on Feb. 12 at the age of 65. His funeral Mass was held Saturday morning at St. Mary Catholic Church in Galena and was livestreamed on Facebook by Miller Funeral Home Group.
About 60 people, several in law enforcement uniforms, attended the service, and dozens more watched online. Chris Allendorf spoke at the service about his father’s reputation as a man always there for others, as well as his ability to see everyone’s potential.
“If there was a spark of good in someone, my dad saw it and would give them a second chance,” Chris Allendorf said.
Steve Allendorf’s casket was taken from the church wrapped in an American flag, and emergency vehicles joined a procession to Saint Mary Cemetery. The route passed near the old farm on Gear Street where Steve Allendorf grew up.
Steve Allendorf served as Jo Daviess County Sheriff for 19 years before retiring in 2005. Current Jo Daviess County Sheriff Kevin Turner said the former sheriff was “community-oriented” and brought several new programs to the county during his tenure, including a stronger 911 system and a K-9 program.
“He was one of the most fair guys you could work for,” said Turner, whom Steve hired to the county sheriff’s department in 2002. “If you had any issues, you could always go to Steve.”
Chris Allendorf said his father loved meeting new people through his job as sheriff and that he had heard many stories in recent days about his father’s impact on individual lives. Steve Allendorf also brought his connections and perspective to the Jo Daviess County Board, on which he served from 2016 until his death.
Chris Allendorf said his dad loved to travel, and Steve Allendorf and his wife, Dianne, took trips as often as they could.
“He would come back often from a trip, and he and my mom would say they met somebody from Galena or they met somebody that my dad knew,” Chris Allendorf said. “It was kind of neat to see how far and wide he knew people or knew people that knew people.”
While Steve Allendorf was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes as a teenager, Chris Allendorf said his father’s health issues became more prevalent in the last decade of his life. The family was told Steve died of a massive heart attack.
“What bothered him the most (about his health issues) was that he couldn’t be the person there for people all the time,” Chris Allendorf said.
But just before his death, Steve Allendorf got to see his son sworn in as Jo Daviess County state’s attorney.
“I think his proudest moment, and my proudest moment, was when I was sworn in,” Chris Allendorf said. “It was like I was taking his legacy and taking it to the next step with that. I can’t think of anything more fitting to happen in the last month of his life. It meant everything to me that he could be there for it.”