SHADE — A former longtime local law officer and two-time candidate for sheriff was killed in a farming accident Saturday.
The Athens County Sheriff’s Office said Stephen Kane, 68, of Shade died in a tractor accident at his farm.
According to Kane’s obituary, he had a long and varied career in law enforcement, beginning as a Deputy with the Athens County Sheriff’s Office and Mounted Posse, then as a patrolman with the Athens City Police Dept. He was a Special Agent in the Narcotics Division of the Bureau of Criminal Investigations with 25 years of service. He was promoted to Special Agent Supervisor with BCI and had a commercial pilot’s license, where he started the Marijuana Eradication Program. After Kane’s work with BCI, he assisted in starting the Meigs County Major Crimes unit.
“Stephen Kane dedicated his life to public safety and law enforcement,” Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith said. “I’ve known him for a long time. He’s been a mentor to me, an asset to the community and he will be greatly missed.”
Kane’s son, Justin, said he was very close to his father and he followed in his footsteps by pursuing a career in law enforcement by serving with the US Border Patrol and later as an investigator with the US Department of Education and US Department of Labor.
“Dad led a full life; a remarkable man who had a remarkable career who served the underserved,” he said. “In a world filled with heroes and villains, Dad was the real deal. Streets were safer, communities stronger and people were happier for having known him. He found favor in the disadvantaged. His heart was pure. The world lost a true hero.”
A Republican, Kane ran twice unsuccessfully for Athens County Sheriff against Democrat Patrick Kelly in 2008 and 2012.
In 2008, Kelly, then a lieutenant in the sheriff’s office, defeated Kane by a 52/48 margin.
When Kelly ran for re-election in 2012, that race for sheriff was particularly heated when Kane asserted accusations that Sheriff Kelly was corrupt with a record that included internal investigations, a deputy indicted and misuse by Kelly of Furtherance of Justice funds.
Kelly defeated Kane by around 59/41 percent margin during that election cycle.
Two years later, Kelly was suspended from office in April of 2014 following his indictment on a wide array of felony charges. He was found guilty of 12 felony and misdemeanor counts in February of 2015 by an Athens County jury. The counts included engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, 12 counts of theft in office, three counts of theft and one count each of perjury and failure to maintain a cashbook. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for his guilt on 17 felony charges and one misdemeanor.
After Kane retired from law enforcement, he remained active in many civic organizations including the Shade Community Center, FOP Lodge, Columbus (Past President), Hiram Lodge 18 F&AM, Paramuthia Lodge 25 F&AM, Aladdin Shrine and the Athens Co. Shrine Club. He attended Hemlock Grove Christian Church, according to his obituary.
Recently, Kane had been serving as chairman of the Athens County Republican Party.
“Steve Kane was everyone’s best friend and grandpa. He was the man’s man. A man of God and country, a man of community, and a man of integrity,” said Alex Burcher, Executive Committee pro-tem chair of the Athens County GOP.
Burcher said he last spoke with Kane the morning he died.
“We talked that morning, and you once again helped me, We both discussed how we could help a community member who was having a hard time. And you shined your light on me and we worked the problem together,” he posted to social media. “You loved me when you didn’t have too, you guided me, you gave me tough love and kept me in a straight line, you held me to be honest at all times with everyone and to always go by the book.”
Kane was known near and far.
“A man of true determination and drive, Steve worked diligently to promote ethics and integrity in all public service positions. He will be missed,” said Jennifer Hiles, Executive Committee Chair of the Hocking County Republican Party.
Athens County Republican Central Committee member Brad Lowry of Trimble added, “I only knew Steve for a short time. We discussed politics and how we both really enjoyed pheasant hunting.”
Funeral services will be conducted at 12 p.m. Friday at Jagers & Sons Funeral Home, Athens. Friends may call Friday 10 a.m. until the time of service at the funeral home. Cremation will follow the service. A potluck dinner will be held at the Shade Community Center following the service on Friday.
Ohio Region Editor for Adams Publishing Company, Miles Layton can be reached at email@example.com