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You can be sure that sheriff’s deputies across Sonoma County shook their heads and laughed through tears Wednesday as their radios dispatched the final end-of-shift of Jon “Woody” Watson.

He was a most unusual man. As a deputy for 33 years, Watson pulled shenanigans, won over bad guys and with his K-9 partner Koogan confiscated drugs and prevented nasty situations from getting worse.

“He treated people with such dignity that he didn’t make enemies,” said longtime friend and fellow deputy Mike Vail. Deputy Mike Raasch called the quick-witted and industrious Watson “the best undercover person I ever worked with.”

Sgt. Andy Cash has no doubt there are peace officers who’ve found themselves in lethal danger but survived thanks to defensive tactics they learned in Watson’s classes at SRJC’s public safety academy.

Watson’s knowledge and training saved his own life, and possibly that of a second deputy, during a traffic stop near Geyserville in late 2005.

A wanted parolee pulled a loaded, .38-caliber revolver and thrust it at Watson’s abdomen. In an instant, the defensive tactics expert grasped the gun’s cylinder, preventing it from firing, and he twisted, pulled his own handgun and killed the assailant with a single shot.

For his actions that afternoon more than 12 years ago, Watson was awarded the department’s highest medal of valor.

He retired in 2010, became a courtroom bailiff and spent more time on the myriad other things that fascinated him: storm chasing, serving as a hunting and fishing guide, photography.

Diagnosed last year with esophageal cancer, the former deputy died Tuesday night at the age of 63.

Sheriff Rob Giordano said Watson “was loved by the people he took to jail, and by the people he helped.

“He was absolutely part of the culture here.”

THE SWEETEST THING happened at Santa Rosa’s Village School on Valentine’s Day. And it was sugar-free.

Sheila Walker of the New Vintage Church, located just up the block at Yulupa and Sonoma avenues, carried into the school a check from church members for $2,000.

Walker asked that the money be applied to the balances that Village School parents owe for their children’s breakfasts and lunches.

But the total that low-income parents were in arrears for their kids’ meals was less than $1,500. So credits will occur.

Thanks to the gift from New Vintage Church members, there are Village parents who pay reduced amounts for meals and who won’t have to pay at all for the rest of the school year.

SWEET, SWEET, TOO, was the V-Day party that had kids greeting elders in Middletown, chatting with them and presenting them gifts of handmade cards and the sorts of boxed candies that people actually want to eat.

More than 50 third- and sixth-graders walked from Minnie Cannon Elementary School to Middletown Senior Center. The coming together was arranged by matchmaker Pari Livermore, who plays Cupid to the rich and famous and also enriches the lives and learning experience of Middletown’s kids.

The youngsters sang to the oldsters, showing them some love. Livermore treated them to ice cream and they headed back to school.

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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