Sheriff: ‘A void that never can be filled’
Tribune News Service
GARDNERVILLE, Nev. – Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Biaggini – “Mikie” to his boss – was remembered Wednesday as a gentle man whose death from colon cancer will leave a void among his colleagues in the law enforcement community that can’t be filled.
“Even though you know it’s going to happen, when it does, it has a huge impact on all of us,” said Sheriff Ron Pierini, speaking Wednesday a few hours after Biaggini died at his home.
“People are extremely saddened by this, but on the other hand, we’re ready to celebrate his life. We knew it was going to happen – how ill Mikie was and how much he was hurting,” a saddened Pierini said. “In some respects, it’s a relief. It didn’t seem there ever was going to be a miracle. I know he’s in a better place. I know how much pain he was going through and he didn’t want to live that way. That part is over and even how sad it is, it’s probably a better thing.”
Biaggini, 55, was diagnosed in April 2001 with colon cancer. For the next 8-1/2 years, he underwent treatment and surgeries as the disease went in and out of remission. Last October, the veteran sheriff’s officer was told that further treatment would not be successful.
He made plans to travel to the Bahamas for alternative treatment in January, but was too ill to make the trip.
After spending 17 days hospitalized in San Francisco, Biaggini returned to his home in Gardnerville. He was honored Jan. 30 at a retirement party attended by 300 friends, colleagues and family members.
He is survived by his wife Mary, and sons Michael, 8 and Nick, a corpsman at Camp Pendleton.
“One of the things that’s just been outstanding is the amount of support this department has given Mike’s family,” Pierini said. “People are helping in any way they can with dinners and meals and just moral support.”
Pierini said tentative plans are for a Feb. 27 celebration of Biaggini’s life at St. Gall Catholic Church in Gardnerville. He expects 1,000 people to attend. Details are being worked out.
Pierini said Biaggini had a say in the plans.
“There was a lot of dialogue. We certainly wanted to do what he wanted,” Pierini said.
Pierini said he expects representatives from law enforcement agencies all over the area to attend.
“Our honor guard is doing a lot of work,” he said. “We’re going to do the best we can to make this as uplifting as we possibly can to celebrate his accomplishments and the kind of person he was. He was a good, honest man who was dedicated to helping people and dedicated to his family. I don’t ever recall that he was ever upset. He never took advantage of people or his position. He loved to go on every call there was. He loved the excitement of law enforcement. He never got tired of doing what he was doing. He could have gone on forever.”
Pierini said in the 28 years he worked with Biaggini, they never had a cross word.
“I respected Mikie because I didn’t need to worry about Mike Biaggini doing anything but the right thing. He was honest, ethical, professional, funny, a delight to be around. He was everything that everyone needs to be,” Pierini said.
The sheriff said Biaggini never let his illness stand in the way of his job.
“He wanted to beat it, but when it was time, it was time. And he was somewhat OK with that,” Pierini said. “He always had a sense of humor, all the way to the end. This is a time for us to pay him back and we’re going to do the best job we can.”
Follow the link for a Facebook slide show of Capt. Mike Biaggini
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