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Family, friends, fellow officers remember Manteca Police officer Stephen Dowswell
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Two Manteca Police motorcycle officers led a hearse carrying the body of Officer Stephen Dowswell to the Calvary Community Church at 11 a.m. Friday in an emotion packed celebration of his life after he had succumbed to leukemia. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Manteca Police officer Stephen Dowswell was many things to many people having touched countless lives before losing a two-year battle with leukemia at the age of 41

A celebration of his life took place Friday morning at Calvary Community Church. Two Manteca motorcycle officers and two from Modesto Police Department escorted the hearse up to the front doors of the church driving between a column of police and fire personnel standing at attention. 

Dowswell had served the Manteca community for some 10 years before he became ill and the City of Modesto for five years prior as a patrolman.

Manteca and Ripon fire departments deployed their 100-foot ladder trucks to the entrance of the church parking lot where they displayed a large American flag that was draped from the two converging ladders.  Vehicles entered the church grounds between those fire trucks and beneath the billowing flag.

The Ripon Police Department took over the city’s emergency calls and beat patrols before, during and after the three-hour funeral and reception so that all the Manteca officers could attend the service, according to public information officer Jason Hensley.  Several motorists were reportedly surprised at being pulled over by Ripon officers in the heart of Manteca mid-day on Friday.

Personal tributes were offered from the podium by members of the force who had nothing but praise for Dowswell – having gotten to know him as a partner and a friend who literally had their lives in his hands.  Officers Aaron Montoya, Dan Chestnut and April Smith along with sergeants Mike Aguilar and Lewis Clark told stories of their associations with Dowswell and the difference he had made in their lives.  Police Chief Nick Obligacion was last to offer his memories of Dowswell and his devotion to his family.

Two of the six had their emotions run deep and were forced to pause in their remarks until they could gather enough composure to continue before some 400 mourners.

The police Honor Guard made up of Manteca and Ripon officers acted as pall bearers and carried the casket into the front of the church.  Two of the officers stood guard at each end of the casket during the lengthy ceremony.  They snapped into rotation with other officers of the Honor Guard who stood at attention next to the walls on either side of the auditorium.

Motorcycle officer David Bright had put together a series of slides of Dowswell and his family,  as well as photos that showed him involved with his friends and fellow officers.

Words of comfort were offered by Pastor Larre Kostenko.  Honor Guard officer April Smith, who had worked with Dowswell as her partner for seven years,  read the 91st Psalm,  noting that it was his favorite as it was also hers.

After the Honor Guard had folded the flag that had draped the coffin, it was presented to the officer’s wife Linda by Chief Obligacion.  He presented a second flag to Dowswell’s parents who were also sitting in the front row.

The same bagpiper representing the Sheriff’s Department, that initially led the procession into the church was there for the benediction as the Honor Guard escorted Dowswell back out to the waiting hearse after family members had spent private time with their husband, father, son and brother for the last time.  A trumpeter played the ceremonial taps at the conclusion of the funeral.

Officers who have been making donations from their monthly checks to help the family’s economic stability have voiced concern for their future financial status.  Many showed emotional support for his wife Linda who sat quietly, stroking the back of their youngest son in the front row with all her children at her side, along with Steve’s parents and other family members.

Three Manteca Police motorcycle officers and one from the Tracy Police Department provided a police escort for the white limousine carrying family members to the reception at the Chez Shari restaurant at the Manteca Golf Course.   It was there that the Dowswell family thanked those who had come to the ceremonies demonstrating their love and respect.