KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, Fla. - Four days after his death, friends and family gathered to say goodbye to retired Jacksonville Sheriff's Officer Michael Pickering.
Pickering was killed Tuesday when his pickup truck collided with an SUV in Alachua County Three others, including Pickering's 10-year-old daughter, survived the crash.
Friends and family came together Saturday morning at St. William's Catholic Church in Keystone Heights to say their final goodbyes. Flowers lines the alter were red, white and blue, along with orange and blue for the team he loved: the Florida Gators.
There were smiles, there were tears, there was joy and there was sadness. But the man killed tragically at age 52 will not soon be forgotten.
"Although he was quiet, he always had a smile on his face," Lynn Harris said. "So you always looked forward to seeing that smile. He is going to be sorely missed."
Four speakers each took turns offering a eulogy remembering the good times they had with the man they all call Mike.
His niece described the family man who loved to wrestle with his children, his grandchildren, and his nieces and nephews.
Others who spoke about him were Two men who worked with him in the law-enforcement profession and a friend he made while taking part in one of his passions, motorcycle riding.
They all used words like pride, respect, loyal, and love to describe Pickering.
"He was a great friend. He was a great dad," Christine Seymour said. "He would give you the shirt right off his back. He always had your back. He was always one to try and make sure everything was done right."
"We really enjoyed spending time with him on those rides," Harris said. "Usually we would ride to get lunch and he was just a nice part of our group."
Dozens of officers with the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office, where Pickering worked for 30 years, and the Clay County Sheriffs Office, where his wife works in the communications center, were on hand to pay their final respects.
One thing many people said they will miss most about Pickering is how reliable he was. They said that if he told you he was going do something you could count on him to get it done. And they say that if you ever needed someone to talk to he would always be there for you.
Pickering's 10-year-old daughter, who was in his truck at the time of the crash, has been released from the hospital and was able to make it to the funeral.
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