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Memorial for McCort slated Saturday

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Family, friends and other loved ones of former Belmont County sheriff Tom McCort will remember his life and impact on the community during a Celebration of Life at 11 a.m. Saturday at Thoburn United Methodist Church.

McCort, of Morristown, died in April 2020 at age 79 after a protracted illness. He served in the U.S. Army in 1960 and the Reserves until 1976. He had a 34-year career in law enforcement. As chief constable of the Union Township/Morristown Police Department, he received Ohio’s first Distinguished Law Enforcement Service Award prior to running for sheriff.

McCort served as sheriff from 1984-2005 and pioneered modernizing the department. He was a student of history and an active public speaker. He served as Southeast Region representative for the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association. He was an instructor in the local peace officer’s training academy.

His widow, Pamela McCort, is organizing the service, which will touch on different aspects of his life.

“Tom touched many lives, and we will celebrate his remarkable life by sharing our memories, our stories, our laughter and our tears,” she said.

“I believe that Tom was in the will of God for his life. He was a true public servant. He wanted to help others, and he worked to be worthy of the public’s trust,” she wrote in an email. “He was successful because of the relationships he forged in life. He had friends and colleagues everywhere that he could call on, and they could call on him.

“People gravitated to Tom. He enjoyed talking to people and treated everyone with respect, regardless of their circumstances. He was smart and interesting and kind. He knew how to get things done, and he was there when you needed him.”

She added that such services are particularly important since the COVID-19 pandemic denied many mourners the chance to mark lives lost during that time.

“Our family was one of thousands unable to hold services for loved ones last year because of the pandemic. While grief is a personal experience, mourning — the coming together to remember those who have died — is an important ritual. I may not have understood that before, but I do now. It was important for us to wait, and I am thankful that we can have a service now.”

Don Struthers, a longtime friend of Post 239 American Legion, Worthington, and Deputy James Dean of the Licking County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard will perform on bagpipes. Local singer/songwriter JoAnn Jones Copeland will perform Tom’s favorite hymn, “In the Garden,” and one of her original songs, “Gratitude.”

Pamela added Tom McCort was a 32nd Degree Mason and Kirkwood Masonic Lodge No. 446 will perform a service.

Also, military honors will be provided by the Belmont County Veterans Association.

Speakers will include Mitchell Rataiczak, longtime friend and military brother.

“Tom and I watched Mitchell grow up in Morristown, and he was a frequent visitor to our home. When Mitchell graduated from U.S. Army Special Forces training, he wore Tom’s Green Beret at the ceremony,” Pam McCort wrote.

One of Tom McCort’s sons, Erik McCort, a veteran of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, will present the eulogy. Like his father, Erik entered law enforcement and currently serves as chief investigator for the Licking County Prosecutor’s Office.

The church is located at 209 E Main St, St Clairsville. More information can be found at remembertom.org.

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