Maryland State Police Trooper Shaft S. Hunter gave the ultimate gift to the state and country, Gov. Martin O'Malley said Friday as he thanked Hunter's family for their son, brother and father.
But to Shaft's six children, ages 4 to 19, O'Malley had especially poignant words: "The light of your father's life is a light that will be shined throughout the world," he said, speaking softly, slowly and directly to them.
"And on the drive that follows this service, you will see your father's light and you will see your father's love reflected in people he never knew, who will stop what they were doing on the side of the road—in honor of your father—and in reflection of the love that he had for you."
The funeral procession for the Reisterstown resident began in Randallstown, where services were held at New Antioch Baptist Church, and ended at Timonium's Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.
Thirty law enforcement agencies' officers, numbering more than 300, were among those who attended the service for Hunter, 39, who died May 21 in the line of duty.
At about 2:40 a.m. that morning, Hunter was working road patrol in Howard County when, according to a witness, Hunter may have been chasing a speeding motorcyclist before he hit the back of a tractor trailer parked alongside I-95 near Route 32. Hunter died at the scene.
Every seat was filled at New Antioch when the two-hour service began just after 11 a.m. And when the Rev. Clifton Sparrows spoke, everyone rose and applauded.
"Has God been good to you?" he asked twice. "You can still say, 'Thank you God,' for being so good ... God is still real. Let us exalt his name, together. ... When I think about the grace of Jesus and all that he has done for me, my soul cries 'Hallelujah!'"
Hunter's flag-draped casket was positioned at the front of the church during the ceremony, surrounded by flowers and accompanied by two photographs of Hunter, a Connecticut native, former Marine and 11-year veteran of the .
He was also a high school football player from Fairfield County, according to an article in The Connecticut Post.
Retired Sgt. Dwayne Lightsey of the Maryland State Police fondly recalled working with Hunter, and how Hunter would greet him by asking, "What's crackin'?"
On the day Hunter died, Lightsey said he woke up, washed his face, combed his hair, and considered Hunter's life and service. And he later decided that today is time to finally answer that question: "My bones are crackin', my eyesight and my hair are lackin'. May peace be with you, my brother."
Col. Terrence B. Sheriden, superintendent of Maryland State Police, spoke during the funeral, giving a thorough and glowing account of Hunter’s service.
Hunter’s employment file is full of compliments from citizens he has helped, and as soon as he entered state police training, in January 2000, Hunter was singled out as a leader, Sheriden said.
Hunter was elected president of the 114th class and gave the president’s speech at graduation. “He talked about them doing the Polar Bear Plunge only three weeks into training,” Sheridan said. “ … He laughed about receiving a concussion during boxing. … He talked about the line-of-duty death of that occurred only a mile from our training camp. He said the class attended the funeral. He said 'it was then that the dangers of police work really hit home.'"
Hunter was first stationed at Waterloo Barrack in Howard County, then in Glen Burnie in Anne Arundel County, and then again at Waterloo.
Also speaking at Hunter's funeral were Orrester Shaw, representing County Executive Kevin Kamenetz; Donald Kinsey, Nile O. Sykes, Terrell S. Taylor and Shaun S. Hunter.
One of TFC Shaft Hunter's children resides in Edgewater in Anne Arundel County.
"He came to soccer games, and to support her in sports," said Tiffany Suite, an Edgewater resident and family friend.
She recalled last Thanksgiving when Hunter took his daughter, Juliana, to Disney World. "That was a really big deal for her," Suite said in an interview with Edgewater-Davidsonville Patch.
"I think for him to always be around was not easy," Suite said. "But he made the effort and was a supportive father. This is not going to be easy. A 9-year-old girl has lost her dad."
Mitchelle Stephenson, local editor for Edgewater-Davidsonville Patch in Anne Arundel County, contributed to this story.