BLUFFDALE Thousands of friends, family members, co-workers and fellow law-enforcement officers paid their final respects Friday to a man remembered as a loving husband, devoted father and a man of God who led by example with his kind heart and generosity.
Stephen Anderson, 60, was laid to rest with a massive outpouring of support. The 1,800-seat-capacity chapel and overflow area in the Bluffdale LDS Stake Center, 14400 S. 2742 West, where funeral services were held, was already near capacity an hour before the funeral began. Chairs were put on a stage behind the overflow area, and video was fed into four overflow rooms to accommodate the large crowd.
Police chiefs and sheriffs from across the state sat in the front of the stage along with Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and his wife, Mary Kaye, to pay tribute.
Anderson, a Utah state corrections officer, was shot and killed Monday during an escape attempt. Inmate Curtis Allgier, who had just completed an MRI at the University Orthopaedic Center, has been accused of the crime. Allgier was charged Thursday with aggravated murder. Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty.
At Friday's funeral, the stake center's neighborhood seemed to double in population as police squad cars, motorcycles, ambulances and other emergency vehicles from just about every law-enforcement organization in Utah lined the streets for more than a mile.
Between 2,000 to 3,000 people were estimated to have attended the service from Utah, the rest of the nation and even Canada.
John Bray was part of a four-member honor guard from the Rhode Island Department of Corrections that attended Friday's service.
"We feel we need to be here," he said.
Bray said because corrections officers are the ones who work behind bars, they are sometimes the forgotten ones. The Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers wanted to make sure Anderson wasn't forgotten, he said.
On a table outside the chapel, pictures of Anderson, many in wood frames he made, were displayed. Many of the photos showed him and his love for the outdoors, either on ATVs, rafting with grandchildren or using his bulldozer to clear new campsites and trails for his family.
In front of the photos was a sign, "I believe in superheroes."
On another table were Anderson's badges, awards, a plaque presented to Anderson's family following his death, and a Boy Scout handbook. Family members say being a Scoutmaster was his favorite church calling.
Anderson's four daughters, his son, Shawn, his brother, Jerome, and sister, Angie, all shared similar stores during the service of Anderson's generous personality.
"I love you, Dad ... the greatest example in my life," Shawn Anderson said, fighting back tears, who followed in his father's footsteps of working for the Department of Corrections.
"My dad was the greatest man I've ever known," said Sherrie Hardy.
Anderson's children recalled how their father always had a project going on, how he loved to work with his hands, and how when those hands weren't busy fixing something or laying carpet for a neighbor, they were almost always holding one of his 16 grandchildren.
Lisa McCloy said her father taught by example and always made his family feel secure.
"I have the most amazing dad. It's hard to imagine life without him," she said in tears. "I love you, Dad. I miss you."
"He was not only a great man, he is a man of greatness," daughter Melanie Stewart said.
All of Anderson's children and siblings had trouble holding back their tears during the ceremony. The most emotional moment, however, was when several of Anderson's grandchildren, led by 10-year-old Dallin Hardy, stood at the front of the podium to sing the LDS hymn "I am a Child of God." Hardy became so overcome with emotion during his short speech that the children could barely make it through the singing of one verse.
Hardy openly cried as he talked about his grandfather's twinkling smile and how he was the "kindest" and "fun for everyone."
Anderson's brother, Jerome, said while Stephen's death seems to have come too soon and many may be struggling to understand why it happened, he said that the family's strong faith will pull them through. He called Stephen's life on Earth just Act 2 of a three-act play, with the LDS belief of an afterlife and that families will be reunited being the third part.
Jerome Anderson said his brother, a "sincere, genuine, upbeat person," proved that one doesn't have to be famous or powerful to have a lifelong effect on people's lives.
"He truly made a difference," he said. "His mortal life was taken. His love can never be taken."
Huntsman expressed condolences to the family on behalf of the state of Utah. He noted that all law-enforcement officers, corrections workers and firefighters know they put their lives on the line every day to serve the public. But Anderson, he said, had the rare ability of successfully balancing force with compassion and treated everyone around him with respect and compassion.
Following the funeral, the hearse carrying Anderson's wood casket drove under an arch created by two ladder trucks from the Unified Fire Authority to the small Bluffdale City Cemetery. There, Anderson was laid to rest with a 21-gun salute, three helicopters flying overhead in the missing man formation and bagpipes playing "Amazing Grace."
Bill Allinson worked with Anderson at Kennecott before they were laid off and eventually went to work at the prison together. Anderson spent the first four years in maximum security before being transferred to transportation for the final 18. Allinson said he and Anderson had talked about retiring together, but Anderson loved his job so much that when the time came, he chose instead to keep working.
Millie Anderson, Stephen's wife, was presented with the folded flag that draped her husband's coffin. Three spent casings from the 21-gun salute were put, as per tradition, inside the folded flag.
After the service was over, members of the prison's transportation unit and members of Adult Probation and Parole placed their white uniform dress gloves and flowers on top of the casket, another law-enforcement tradition.