Colleagues recall Wood County deputy

Veteran officer passed away Thursday morning

Lt. David Tennant

PARKERSBURG — Veteran Wood County Sheriff’s Lt. David Tennant received a hero’s welcome from his fellow law enforcement officers Wednesday as he returned home from cancer treatment in Texas.

On Thursday, the sheriff’s department began preparations to say farewell one last time.

Tennant, who had been discharged from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston after it was determined nothing more could be done for him, passed away early Thursday morning at Camden Clark Medical Center, Wood County Sheriff Steve Stephens said. It happened less than 12 hours after police cruisers from multiple area departments lined U.S. 50 for miles to escort him home.

“It’s been very somber,” Stephens said of the mood around the department Thursday afternoon. “I have seen more tears shed in this office than I’ve ever seen before.”

Tennant was a 22-year veteran of the department, who was known and respected in Wood County and around the state, Stephens said.

“Dave worked hard up the ranks,” Stephens said. “He was the policeman’s policeman … even to the point, his wife told me today, he never, ever had alcohol to his lips.”

Tennant was a key member of the Wood County C.R.A.S.H. Team and served as night shift supervisor when he was last on full, active duty.

“He was one of the best vehicle crash investigators in the history of this department,” Stephens said.

Although Tennant took his work seriously, he had a great sense of humor, said Chief Deputy Robert Sims.

“A very dry wit, but he could laugh with you very easily,” he said.

Sims joined the department less than a year after Tennant.

“He was one of the first ones I rode along with before I was certified,” Sims said. “He’d be the first one to chase after someone. And he’d be right there with you to pick you up if you fell.”

Tennant was diagnosed nearly five years ago with acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood that affects bone marrow. He remained on light duty with the sheriff’s office whenever he could, conducting background investigations of new deputies, and even returned to full duty at one point, Stephens sad. When he couldn’t be at work, he would often call and check in on how things were going.

“He was a warrior,” Stephens said. “He fought this cancer tenaciously for the last five years.”

Wood County 911 Director Rick Woodyard was a deputy alongside Tennant for 17 years.

“It has been said, ‘It’s not how police officers die that made them heroes, it’s how they lived,'” Woodyard wrote on Facebook Thursday. “Lt. David Tennant, you showed us all how to live, how to fight and how to define courage. We are all a little bit better in having known you and more importantly … to have called you friend. Rest in peace, brother.”

Stephens said he was told Tennant slept most of the way back from Columbus on Wednesday but was awakened as they approached the state line. The sight of so many cruisers — 66 by one count — and fellow officers brought a smile to Tennant’s face, the sheriff said.

Tennant is survived by his wife, Deborah, a daughter and a son, Stephens said.

Funeral arrangements are still being worked out, but Stephens said Tennant will receive a full law enforcement tribute, including an honor guard. Other departments have already contacted the office to say they want to be involved, he said.