Former Pacific County Sheriff John Didion died Tuesday afternoon at St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland after suffering a cardiac arrest.
Didion, 66, served three terms (1998-2010) as sheriff, following a career as a linebacker for the Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks.
As sheriff, he also served as an officer for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, or DARE, and established a drug task force. He also taught other officers how to run DARE classes, Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson said Wednesday.
“Not only did he influence kids in his own county, but through teaching other teachers he leaves a huge legacy in that regard throughout the state,” Nelson said.
He was also president of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police in 2010. “He was very well respected throughout the state representing law enforcement and working on legislative issues,” Nelson said.
He was a persistent force in preventing the closure of the Naselle Youth Camp for at-risk youth.
“He’ll be remembered for all the positive things he did for the community,” Pacific County Sheriff Scott Johnson said.
The former linebacker was a big man, but Nelson said he never used his size to intimidate or get his way.
“He was a humble man,” Nelson said. “And just a fabulous guy. He’s just really going to be missed.”
Didion is survived by his wife, Anne Marie, their children and grandchildren.