Community members mourn death of Deputy Chief Donnie Gasparini Jr.
The 46-year-old died Sunday during recreational activity with his son.
ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The community mourns after the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office announces the sudden death of Deputy Chief Donnie Gasparini Jr.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I have to announce the passing of our Deputy Chief, Don Gasparini Jr,” said Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana.
Donnie Gasparini Jr. served Winnebago County as a member of the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department for more than 25 years. Sheriff Caruana said the 46-year-old died Sunday during recreational activity with his son.
“You’re praying, you’re hoping, you’re fighting for anything that can be done for him to pull out of this," Sheriff Caruana said.
Friends and colleagues say the deputy chief followed in his father’s footsteps into law enforcement. Don Gasparini Sr. served as Winnebago County Sheriff from 1980 to 1997. They said Gasparini Jr. rose through the ranks on his own merit.
“As he grew in that department and got promoted and promoted well deservingly, of course," said Tony Arbisi. a friend Gasparini Jr.. "He gave that to the department, he gave that to the subordinates below him and the other deputies below him and I believe all looked up to his leadership.”
Sheriff Caruana called Gasparini Jr. happy, reliable, and a man who got things done. He said those traits are what he’ll remember most about the deputy chief.
“Not only was he an employee but a friend and not just to me he was a friend to everybody on that command staff," Sheriff Caruana said.
Members of the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office and those close to Gasparini Jr. said they want his family to know they are here for them.
“We love you our family is here for you, our community is here for you. I’m sorry for this loss," Arbisi said.
Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross released a statement about Gasparini’s death.
“I would like to express my condolences to the family and to the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department on the passing of Deputy Chief Don Gasparini. Deputy Chief Gasparini was a notable presence in the leadership team of Sheriff Gary Caruana. His dedication to service for the Winnebago County residents was exemplified by his quiet disposition in assisting those in need. I feel blessed to have had the privilege to work with Donnie for the past several years. His death has left a void in the hearts of all of us who worked with him and knew him. And although we will no longer be blessed with his physical presence, his spirit of kindness and exceptional leadership will continue to resonate with us,” Hite Ross said.
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