Published 1:57 am Friday, July 25, 2003
By By JOHN EBY / Cassopolis Vigilant
CASSOPOLIS -- A few tears fell as Deputy Shane Allen Britton's relatives, friends and colleagues gathered at noon Saturday on his knoll on the third anniversary of his July 19, 2000, 11:10 p.m. death in the line of duty. He was 29.
But in recognition that the memorial service also celebrates his life, there were a few laughs about the time he cut his own hair or how anxious he would have been to dispense with speeches to check out the array of refreshments in the Cass County Sheriff's Office squad room.
Deputy Rich Hiscock related Britton's life story. He was born May 8, 1971, and grew up in Indonesia, becoming fluent in several languages while his parents were missionaries. Jim and Beth Britton attended from Grand Haven. He was also survived by two brothers, Seth and Jim.
The Brittons have moved from Marcellus to Hudsonville. His wife and children were in Canada visiting her parents. Luke will be 7 in September. Alise turns 4 in August.
Deputy Phil Small read "The Policeman's 23rd Psalm" written by Chaplain Tommy Robertson of the Van Zandt, Texas, Sheriff's Department, then began the tale of Britton's self-inflicted trim.
Small got tied up for a couple of hours, so it fell to Hiscock to go to Britton's house. Shane wouldn't tell him the reason for the visit when he summoned his friend to the garage.
Hiscock gaped at the back. "I can't even describe what he did to it, but I fixed it up for him."
Corrections Officer Debra Harris delivered a powerful a capella rendition of "Amazing Grace."
Chaplain Jim Garnett led the invocation, making the point, "Often we think people who are young who die tragically, it was an accident or not meant to be. But the Word of God says He knows all of our days. His life was not cut short. His life was lived out as long as the Lord wanted him to have it. It was a shock to us, but not to the Lord. Remember, we're here to celebrate Shane's memory, to keep that alive and to think about what he did for the Lord while he was here."
Britton died when his squad car left M-62 and hit a tree while responding to a call for assistance from Ontwa Township police.