'Thank you Chris for a life lived well'

'Thank you Chris for a life lived well' »Play Video
Celebration of Life services for Officer Chris Kilcullen (Dan Morrison/Oregon NewsLab)

EUGENE, Ore. - Officer Chris Kilcullen's daughters got a quarter from Officer John Risko every time his language turned salty Friday.

He brought a whole roll with him to the podium as he spoke about his partner, who died April 22.

After ticking off his list of colorful nicknames for Kilcullen, Risko choked up.

"One name that I had for him, I'm most proud of, but I'm most ashamed of because I never said it," he managed to say. "Best friend."

Law enforcement officers from at least 12 states and Canada took part in a memorial motorcade across Eugene and Springfield. The motorcade traveled 22 miles and passed by many of Kilcullen's favorite spots in town, including coffee shops and a scuba store.

The 454 vehicles, including over 100 officers on motorcycles similar to the one Kilcullen rode on duty as a traffic enforcement officer, also drove by the site where a single bullet claimed the life of the 43-year-old police officer.

Citizens lined the streets holding American flags, blue ribbons - and each other.

"We're here because a member of our community was killed in the line of duty," Terri Vanderpool said.

"I have four kids and I want them to learn respect, too, and so were out here watching it," said Todd Lillingston, who said he had visited the memorial where Kilcullen died every day this week. "My kids did not attend school today to come here."

'Chris was everybody's favorite cop'

Officer Scott Dillon was hired the same year as Kilcullen, and the two worked traffic enforcement together. He recounted how the motorcade carried Kilcullen's ashes past places important to him in life.

The motorcade started near Autzen Stadium, where Kilcullen worked during football games.

One by one, the vehicles made their way down I-105, which closed for an hour to allow the procession to tread the same stretch of road that Kilcullen worked day in and day out.

As the procession crossed the Jefferson Street Bridge, Dillon said, they passed the place where Kilcullen once talked a suicidal person out of jumping.

The motorcade arrived at Matthew Knight Arena, where earlier in the day firefighters had placed a giant American flag strung between two ladder trucks.

Inside the arena, co-workers, friends and family shared memories of Kilcullen's life and their hopes for his lasting legacy with the 5,000 people in the arena. Thousands more watched live on TV and online.

"Chris was everybody's favorite cop," said Lane County Circuit Court Judge Debra Vogt.

"Time after time we had people tell us they didn't like the ticket," Municipal Court Judge Wayne Allen said, "but they liked the guy that gave it to them.

"Every time we saw him, he earned our respect," Allen said, adding that Kilcullen showed "genuine respect and courtesy - including people who may not have deserved it."

"The loss is horrific," Police Chief Pete Kerns said. "Learn from Chris' life. Growth is great. Thank you Chris for a life lived well."

Kilcullen, 43, came to law enforcement after pursuing his passion for radio disc jockeying and community service, although his father John recalled a time when Chris was a boy and he saw a man grab a woman's purse. Kilcullen took down details about the man's appearance and relayed them to police.

He urged families not to miss opportunities to gather together.

"As we now know, you never know when it will be the last time," he said.

Lt. Jennifer Bills called Kilcullen "one of those connectors, one of those that brought people together. He's working his magic here today."

"If you want to honor Chris," Lance McDonald said, "work hard, treat your wife like she's the only woman in the world, and respect your cops."

Judge Allen at one point paused and asked the crowd: Would the people here who are not police like to honor Chris Kilcullen?

Matthew Knight Arena erupted in applause and a standing ovation that last for minutes.

"We can't compensate for the loss, the giant void that he left," friend Aaron Lewis said, then added: "Bring love into this world and you honor Chris Kilcullen."