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Iowa State Trooper Sergeant Jim Smith loved being a trooper.  That is the first thing I want to say about Jim.  He was shot and killed in the line of duty on Friday, April 9, 2021.  I am writing this with a heavy heart and tears that will not go away, just a few short hours after learning of his death.

Jim loved his family and his Lord and those are two facts.  My family was blessed to know Jim and his wife and children.  His annual Christmas letters were exceptionally funny and brought their family outings and Jim’s humor front and center.  He had a good heart, quick mind and solid foundation for all things human.  I wish I had been closer and I wish I had been quicker to take him up on his offer to do a “ride-along” during one of his evening shifts as a state trooper.  Our busy lives always took us a different direction each time I thought I had a few spare hours and I never made the call to set up a time.  A missed opportunity for sure.

As sad and hurt as many of us are with Jim’s passing, I do not intend to dwell on this sad moment but instead share more of what Jim meant to me and how I came to know him. Our daughters played volleyball together and they’ll be graduating in few weeks. His remarkable and loving wife Kathy is always a treat to sit by during volleyball games or just chat with at the grocery store.  Jim’s son is a young man with unquestionable character, rock steady principles and smart as ever.  Jim’s family is truly a great living tribute to him. The family is blessed by God for this time on earth to be so close.  I’m reminded that it is not the years in the life but the life in the years.

Shortly after being elected to the Iowa State Senate in 2016, I heard from Jim in what I would call an official, unofficial capacity.   Since we knew each other before I was elected, I think he didn’t want to overstep on ground that was friendship and now also included the dynamic of me being an elected official.  What could go wrong? I was just thrilled that he still wanted to talk to me and be a friend.  If you know Jim, he may have appeared quiet and reserved on the outside but to me he was open, talkative, blatantly honest and to say I enjoyed our many conversations is an understatement.

What did Jim talk about? He talked about the troopers and his family and what they meant to him. It seemed as if the troopers and his family were one and the same. There wasn’t one aspect of the troopers he didn’t talk about or miss a chance to advocate.  Jim was informative and knew his facts and always stated why what he was telling me was important and needed attention for the troopers.  He was honest in everything he said. He educated me at length on challenges faced by law enforcement but he never, ever complained. Our conversations always ended with him thanking me for my service and in turn I was the one who couldn’t thank him enough for his service. Jim would also say a nice prayer at the end of our official, unofficial conversations.  It made my day.

As I finish this insight to Iowa State Trooper Sergeant Jim Smith, I cannot guess what he’d like me to say but I’ll do my best and tell you how much he loved his Savior and family and how much he enjoyed the wonderful experience of serving Iowans as an Iowa State Trooper. Jim Smith will be remembered by me as a friend, loving husband and dad who just adored his children. He was honest and forgiving, and cared for every human life and did so with a seriously funny personality.  The last time I spoke with Jim he was sitting down to give blood and was dressed as the trooper he was. I remember thinking at that moment, what more is this guy willing to give? That is Jim Smith.  Thank you for your service and may we all be better for knowing you.

Author: Craig Johnson