Hieronimus known for dedication to community

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Former sheriff served in many roles during public career; Service set for today


Well-known for his years in public service, former Lawrence County sheriff Dan Hieronimus, who passed away on Jan. 26, will have a funeral service today.

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Hieronimus held the sheriff’s office from 1981–1993 after leaving the Ohio State Highway Patrol in 1979 after being a trooper for eight years and attaining the rank of sergeant.

Dan Hieronimus

After leaving office, he held a number of offices, including being the director of Development for Youth Development Corp; the administrator for the Ohio Department of Youth Services, the Safe Schools and Communities coordinator for the Lawrence County Educational Service Center and finally, retiring as executive director of the STAR Community Justice Center in 2008.

After his retirement, he became well-known in the community for being a strong advocate for keeping the banks of the Ohio River clean of trash.

In December 1974, then-Ptl. Dan Hieronimus, of Coal Grove, was presented with an ACE decal for his cruiser by Col. Robert M. Chiaramonte, the superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Hieronimus was being commended for five stolen car recoveries with on-the-spot apprehension. Hieronimus, a Dawson-Bryant High School graduate, joined the patrol in 1971.

Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless got his start in law enforcement under Hieronimus in 1986 after graduating from police academy.

“Dan had a magnetism that just drew people to him,” Lawless said. “I always wanted to be a police officer, so, after I got out of the academy, I started coming to his office and trying to get a job. He hired me.”

Under Hieronimus, he became a correction officer in the jail and, within three years, he was promoted to corporal with the responsibility of supervising the night shift. Lawless left the sheriff’s office to join the SWAT team of the Atomic Plant in Piketon and returned to the sheriff’s office with the election of Sheriff Tim Sexton, first as a jail administrator, then a promotion to chief deputy.

He said Hieronimus could be a demanding boss, but “I really appreciated him and he helped me along. We had a lot of nice times and I was certainly appreciative of him.”

Lawless said that he and Hieronimus became friends and he was one of the people who told him he should run for the sheriff’s office in 2008.

“He came to me one day, and this was long before I decided to run for sheriff, and he encouraged me to run because he thought I would be a good sheriff,” Lawless said. “His leadership and his encouragement certainly led me to continue to want to be sheriff. And after I did decide to run, he was there with a lot of encouragement.”

Lawless said Hieronimus was an accomplished man.

“Our community is certainly better off because of him,” he said. “He was a dedicated public servant. Everything he did was geared to helping his fellow man and his community.”

Lawrence County General Hospital in cooperation with Sheriff Daniel R. Hieronimus conducted a Bicycle Safety Program 1984. Shown looking at the manual are hospital executive director John Smalley and Sheriff Hieronimus. (The Ironton Tribune | File Photo | Carol Kitts)

Ironton Police Chief Pam Wagner also worked as a deputy for Hieronimus in the early 1990s.

“He was a great sheriff and a good human being,” she said. “He served Lawrence County much of his life. He was great to work with, a real professional. He cared about his department and his employees. He was just great to work with.”

Wagner said Hieronimus was the type of person she could always turn to when she needed help.

“He was a great source of information,” she said. “He had so much knowledge about this county, on training, what made a good supervisor. He was always helpful, it didn’t matter when it was you could call and he was right there to help.”

Chris Smith, former South Point council member and a retired trooper from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, described Hieronimus as “legend in law enforcement.”

While Smith said he never worked for Hieronimus in law enforcement, the two had worked together on many of his initiatives.

The Lawrence County Republican Party opened their campaign headquarters for 1986 on Third Street in Ironton. From left are County Treasurer Kenneth C. Howell, state representative candidate Sheriff Dan Hieronimus, Ohio Sen. Oakley C. Collins, and County Auditor James A. Payne. (The Ironton Tribune | File photo | John Mathew)

“He designed and did the Anti-Crash Program, called ACE,” Smith said. It rewarded kids for driving safely. It was an educational program with a test.’

He said Hieronimus also created an air show to promote anti-drug efforts.

Smith said he remembers, as a child, first seeing Hieronimus working at the Ironton Regatta, walking around the event.

“He was someone who truly earned everyone’s respect, not demanded it, by the way he carried himself” Smith said.

He said Hieronimus continued to be a public servant, long after retiring, focusing on educational efforts and working to clean up the riverbanks.

“He was someone who stayed focused,” Smith said.

Smith said he remembers encouragement and advice he received from Hieronimus at the start of his career.

“He would give you tips on how to work the road, Smith said, remembering being told by Hieronimus to work with the cruisers window down.

“That way, you didn’t miss anything,” he said, stating he followed the advice and kept his window partially down, even in rain and snow, so that he would be aware of his surroundings and not miss cries for help or the smell of smoke from fires.

“They were little things that you hadn’t thought of,” Smith said. “But they were things you could also pass down. He was very wise.”

The funeral service for Hieronimus is at 12:30 p.m. today at First Baptist Church of Ironton, 304 S. Fifth St., Ironton, with Pastors Eric Barnes and David Lambert officiating. Burial will follow in Woodland Cemetery.

Visitation begins at 10:30 a.m. until the time of the service.