Former longtime Rice County Sheriff Dave Schweisthal passed away today in Fort Meyers, Florida, after an extended illness, according to his obituary.

Services are pending with the Parker-Kohl Funeral Home in Faribault for the 79-year-old.

When I arrived at KDHL in 1987, Schweisthal was in office and I always enjoyed working with him. What I loved most about him was the fact he was a straight shooter.

I visited with Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn about the passing and Dunn told KDHL, "Dave was the sheriff who hired me in 1989 and I owe a lot to him. He will be sorely missed."

Dunn said that when he decided to run for sheriff, he went to Schweisthal and asked him what advice he could give him to be successful at the job.

The answer: "Keep your nose clean and lead by example."

Dunn says that's what he's, "always tried to do." Dunn adds the funeral will probably be one of the biggest this community has seen, "because he has touched a lot of lives."

The sheriff agreed with my description of Dave as a no-nonsense kind of guy.

I remember after the state seat belt law was passed I stopped by the then-sheriff Schweisthal's office and did an interview with him about the law's passage. I asked him if he would order his deputies to wear one and he replied, "no."

I got the impression he didn't like the law because it was government telling people how to live their life and he said his deputies had too much gear they had to wear so he wasn't going to require them to wear a seat belt.

One of the other deputies hired by Schweisthal told me today that former Sheriff Richard Cook did make wearing a seat belt a directive when he took over.

Schweisthal served from 1978-97. He was named Minnesota Outstanding Law Officer of the Year in 1987 by the American Legion and was the Third District American Legion Officer of the Year in 1986. He was also a past president of the Minnesota Sheriff's Association.

Dave Schweisthal-Rice County Sheriff 1978-1997. photo by Gordy Kosfeld
Dave Schweisthal-Rice County Sheriff 1978-1997. photo by Gordy Kosfeld

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