Clovis News

Fresno Co. deputy called 'brave, honest, true'

1:05 p.m.: The funeral procession finished passing Willow Avenue on Herndon Avenue about 1:05 p.m., heading to the 2 p.m. service at Clovis District Cemetery.

It took about an hour for hundreds of law-enforcement vehicles to pass by. Fed, state and local agencies from around the state were represented in the procession, along with a few out-of-state agencies, such the police department in Reno, Nev.

Hundreds of people lined Herndon Avenue to watch the procession. People waited patiently for up to two hours before the first vehicles appeared.

12:23 p.m.: The hearse bearing Wahlenmaier's body has arrived at Clovis District Cemetery. The graveside service is scheduled to start at 2 p.m.

11:50 a.m.: The casket has been borne out of the church. Squad cars are making their way to Clovis District Cemetery, where a graveside service will be held.

The cemetery service will include a message from Monsignor John Moreton of Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church. The family will be presented the flag from the casket, and a bagpiper will play "Amazing Grace."

After an aerial salute -- a helicopter flyover by law-enforcement helicopters -- and a release of doves, the ceremony will end with the traditional "logoff" for a fallen officer.

11:38 a.m.: Troy Stokes is among a crowd of people gathered at Herndon and Willow avenues, waiting to watch the funeral procession when it passes from Peoples Church to Clovis District Cemetery.

Asked why he felt it was important to watch the procession, Stokes cries. He says his father once worked in law enforcement, his brother is a Fresno County sheriff's deputy, and that one of his close friends was Erik Telen, a Fresno County deputy killed in an ambush in 2001.

"I take it kind of personally," Stokes says. "It was important to honor them."

Many in the crowd are friends and family of law enforcement or retired law enforcement personnel. Others said it was just important to be there to honor the fallen officers.

They stood and watched as Fresno firefighters used two ladder trucks to raise a 30-foot-wide American flag over Herndon Avenue.

11:27 a.m. Service ends. Family leaves their seats. Pallbearers gather around the casket.

11:25 a.m.: After Hale finishes his message, two members of the Sheriff's Office come forward, stand in front of the casket and salute.

11:15 a.m.: Sheriff's chaplain Bill Hale speaking. He asks rhetorically why God would allow the shooting to happen. The answer, he says: Freedom. Freedom to make choices and to follow your own path. "Sometimes," he says, "we suffer from the bad decisions other people make."

11:10 a.m.: Video tribute to Wahlenmaier is played to the tune of the Eagles' "Best of My Love."

11 a.m.: Terrance: "I as try to make sense of the events of the last week, I'm so thankful that Wally was in my life. I'm so thankful for his family. ..."

10:55 a.m.: Sheriff's Sgt. Arley Terrance is speaking. He remembers briefings with Wahlenmaier. "Wally could go on, as you've heard. ... He'd tell you what the guy was doing in first grade."

10:50 a.m.: Deputy Kent Jones is speaking. "The words 'I'm tired, I can't do it, I quit' were not in this man's vocabulary."

He says "Wally" loved to compete. He shares an anecdote about a pickup basketball game. Jones says even though Wahlenmaier was "a horrible basketball player," it didn't matter -- he competed on the court like a hockey player.

10:45 a.m.: McCormick says Wahlenmaier loved the outdoors and understood the wilderness. He talks about a memorable hunting trip he took with him.

"I wanted this to be a tradition, but now you're gone," McCormick says of the trip. "And I promise, buddy, that I will play the game just like you did."

10:35 a.m.: Deputy Jared McCormick talks about he and Wahlenmaier playing around with iPhones they had just received. A picture McCormick took of his friend that day is the last he has of Wahlenmaier.

10:30 a.m.: Deputy Joe Smith speaking. He says he was one of the law-enforcement officers who went to Wahlenmaier's family last Thursday to tell them of his death. "It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," Smith said.

He said Wahlenmaier's wife, Bev, said, "Joe, he was my rock. He was my everything." Smith, addressing Bev in the church's front row, said, "I didn't know what to say then, other than to hug you."

10:15 a.m.: Deputy Chris Curtice sings "I Believe," accompanied by guitarist Tony Quinn.

"I raise my hands, bow my head

I'm finding more and more truth in the words written in red

They tell me that there's more to life than just what I can see

Oh i believe"

10:18 a.m.: Chaplain Bill Hale offers a scripture and prayer.

10:12 a.m.: Sheriff Margaret Mims opens the service: "Today, we will offer a glimpse into a man who was kind, brave, honest and true."

9:05 a.m.: Up to 6,000 people are expected to attend the services for Joel Wahlenmaier. The capacity of Peoples Church is 2,500; tents are set up outside to handle the overflow. Attendees in the tents will be able to watch the service on video.

9:04 a.m.: Vehicles headed to this morning's service are affecting traffic throughout northeast Fresno. Traffic is backed up on northbound Highway 41 and on Herndon Avenue from Highway 41 to Highway 168.

Sheriff Margaret Mims will make an opening statement this morning at services for Fresno County sheriff's deputy Joel Wahlenmaier.

The service, which starts at 10 a.m. at Peoples Church, 7172 N. Cedar Ave., in Fresno, will include a funeral procession and prayers from Chaplain Bill Hale of the Sheriff's Office.

Wahlenmaier, 49, a Fresno resident and father of two, was one of two officers slain in a shootout Feb. 25 in Minkler.

A musical tribute will be presented by deputy Chris Curtice and Tony Quinn, followed by words of remembrance from deputies Joe Smith, Jared McCormick and Kent Jones, as well as Sgt. Arley Terrence.

Burial will take place after the service at Clovis District Cemetery. The procession route east from Peoples Church to the cemetery will mostly follow Herndon Avenue. The Highway 168 ramps to Herndon Avenue will be closed from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Motorists are advised to use the onramps and offramps at Bullard and Fowler avenues.

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office released a map of the procession: From Peoples Church, it will head east on Fir Avenue to Maple Avenue, south to Herndon Avenue, east to Peach Avenue, south to Sierra Avenue, east to Villa Avenue and north to the cemetery, located at the southwest corner of Villa and Herndon avenues.

Internment is scheduled for 2 p.m. Access to the cemetery will be limited.

According to the sheriff's office, eastbound traffic along Herndon between Cedar and Villa will be closed to through traffic following the funeral service and until the last member of the procession has turned south on Peach. Closures will occur at other intersections.

There also will be a private reception at the Veterans Memorial Building in Clovis at 3 p.m.

Contributions to the Joel Wahlenmaier Family Memorial Fund can be sent in care of the Fresno Deputy Sheriff’s Association, 1360 Van Ness Ave., Fresno, CA 93721.