Family, friends and law enforcement officers from around the Bay Area filled the 2,000-seat Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium Friday to pay tribute to 49-year-old slain Marin County sheriff's Deputy Jim Mathiesen.
Mathiesen, a nine-year sheriff's deputy, was fatally shot July 19 by Thomas Halloran, the 28-year-old ex-boyfriend of a family friend's daughter, outside a residence on Liberty Road near Petaluma.
Mathiesen was off-duty and went to the home after the family friend said Halloran had sent threatening messages to her daughter.
After shooting Mathiesen, Halloran was also fatally shot at the home after he took the family friend hostage.
Speakers at the memorial service in San Rafael said it was Mathiesen's nature to help anyone in need and that is what led him to become a deputy at age 40 after a career in the construction industry.
Mathieson's oldest son Vincent said his father held his children and his wife "in the highest bracket of his life."
Recalling a bumper sticker on his father's truck, Vincent said, "He lived every day like it was his last. I'm going to live by that."
Mathieson was remembered as a practical joker, a good dancer, a man who worked and played hard and as someone who was known to enjoy a cocktail.
"I once sold him a car for two vodka cranberries," Mathieson's brother-in-law Doug Fletcher said, eliciting much laughter.
"He never said, 'You owe me one,'" Fletcher said, echoing others who said Mathieson helped anyone who needed it.
"He was all about people. Like Norm on 'Cheers,' everyone knew his name," Fletcher said. "He knew intuitively what is important and what is not. He was not about petty."
Nephew Ryan Cogbill said his uncle "loved this life" and said "he 'got' it."
Marin County Sheriff Robert Doyle recalled hiring Mathieson in 2002.
"Every organization needs a bunch of Jims," Doyle said.
Sgt. Hugh Baker, president of the Marin County Deputy Sheriffs' Association, recalled Mathieson keeping his jail inmate work crews busy because he said "they did not want to rot in their cells."
After the two-hour service, mourners were invited to write notes to Mathieson that will be burned during his cremation.