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Dewey honored in tribute

Chris Dewey vigil organizer Charene Vogel, right, watches balloons float through the air with fiance Jim Smith during the vigil held along Highway 59 in Detroit Lakes near Oak Grove Cemetery Thursday night. "She's got a heart of gold," Smith said of his fiancee. "I just had to be by her side." Brian Basham/DL Newspapers1 / 3
Chris Dewey vigil attendees released balloons as Mahnomen County Sheriff Doug Krier drove deputy Dewey's car north along Highway 59 back to Mahnomen Thursday night. Krier said there were people participating in the vigil along Highway 59 all the way to Mahnomen. Basham/DL Newspapers2 / 3
Kayla Knopp of Fargo created t-shirts for the Chris Dewey vigil Thursday night in Detroit Lakes. Basham/DL Newspapers3 / 3

When Mahnomen County Sheriff Doug Krier drove Chris Dewey's squad car on Highway 59 Thursday night, Charene Vogel began to cry.

The Audubon woman couldn't contain herself during a tribute she organized for the Mahnomen County deputy who was shot in the line of duty last year.

"It's sad, but I'm so happy. I've been an emotional wreck," Vogel said.

It was a bittersweet experience. Vogel wanted to show her support for Dewey, who sacrificed his life in the name of public service, but wasn't sure what the response was going to be.

Through local newspaper, radio and television interviews, she sent the message out to everyone who has been following Dewey's story since the beginning, that it was time to honor him and let him know how much he's remembered.

A candlelight vigil and balloon release was held Thursday night along Highway 59, from Detroit Lakes going north toward Mahnomen, and Vogel wasn't too disappointed with the turnout.

"I didn't care if I stood here by myself, I said I was coming," Vogel said. "Once I saw the line and how far it's going, I smiled."

Nearly 70 people -- who came from all over the area including Audubon, Lake Park, Ogema, Fargo-Moorhead and Ulen-Hitterdal -- began the line up in Detroit Lakes near Oak Grove Cemetery.

They brought signs with all different sorts of messages for Dewey and his family. But one common message everyone wanted to send him was that the whole community is behind him and praying for him.

Joining Vogel, who before the event printed a photo of Dewey, framed it and surrounded it with candles and balloons, stood a Detroit Lakes man wearing a t-shirt that said, "A brother in brown is never down."

"It's so tragic," Mark Stalberger said. "He gave the ultimate sacrifice, we just wanted to say thank you."

Those who know Dewey all describe him as a neat guy, full of life and energy with a unique sense of humor.

Corinne Beug is a former Mahnomen nurse who had quite a few conversations with Dewey back when they both worked overnight shifts.

"He's such a good kid," she said, adding that she wants to make sure he knows how much he's loved and appreciated.

It wasn't just in Detroit Lakes that people stood along Highway 59 for Dewey. Supporters gathered at Callaway, Ogema and concluded the tribute in Mahnomen.

In Dewey's car, Krier hit each town on the highway, where everyone released balloons in honor of Dewey as soon as they saw his car drive by.

Krier said prior to the vigil, he spoke with Dewey's family, who informed him that he is still hanging in there. When they heard of the tribute, one family member said he couldn't believe the amount of support.

"Chris is a big person with a heart of gold," Krier said. "We still think about him and we're not going to forget."