Chief Deputy Steve Schuette said he didn't want any big send off. He just wanted to disappear quietly and then someday someone would ask: What happened to that guy?
Tough luck, chief.
On Friday, amid pizza and cake, the third-in-command for the Sheriff's department spent his final day in uniform. Deputies, detectives and supervisors lauded his virtues with ease. His wife, Lisa, watched on with tear-filled eyes.
At his own admission, Schuette's retirement is more bitter than sweet.
After 27 years of service to Carson City, Schuette said he was not tired. He was not ready to go. A change in Nevada law has forced him to hang up his gun belt.
Until the passage of Senate Bill 544 by the 2007 Legislature, nonstate public employees were included in the state's subsidized health care under the Public Employee Benefits Program.
Like a number of city employees, Schuette either needed to retire before Sept. 1 so he could continue to receive affordable health insurance, or risk paying $450 a month for insurance once he does retire.
"It just comes down to a money issue," the notorious prankster with a straight-man's delivery said with an uncharacteristic sigh. "Everybody was kind of hoping that the (legislators) would go back and re-evaluate this. They never did. I'd rather do two more years and finish the sheriff's term."
Joining the Sheriff's Department in 1980 as a reserve officer, Schuette was hired on full-time by then-Sheriff Hal Dunn in 1981.
He worked virtually every department within the department. He played a part in some of the biggest stories that hit Northern Nevada in the last quarter-century " the Harvey's Tahoe bombing in 1980, the slipping of Slide Mountain in 1983, the murder of Sheila Harris in 1982 and the subsequent arrest and conviction last year of her killer, the floods of 1999 and the Waterfall fire of 2004 that nearly burned down his town.
At just 55 years old, Schuette is the longest-serving member in the department. He's dedicated half his life to it.
"A dear and nicer person I have never known," said Lt. Ray Saylo.
"The heart this man has is just unbelievable," said Sheriff Ken Furlong.
"He calls a spade a spade and I cherish his candor," said Lt. Ken Sandage.
"It's been a great ride, and I hate for it to end," said Schuette.
- Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.