Lake County community honors former undersheriff, veteran

BALDWIN — On Saturday, June 4, a portion of M-37 running through Lake County was closed down as hundreds of vehicles took to the roads in a final sign of respect for former law enforcement officer, Vietnam War veteran and community leader Michael Lee Dermyer.

Dermyer passed away at his home on May 28. A funeral service took place at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Baldwin, before those in attendance, as well as scores of emergency service personnel and AMVETS riders, escorted his remains to AMVETS Post No. 1988 where a memorial service was hosted.

Dermyer served proudly in the U.S. Navy before entering law enforcement. He started out walking a beat in Detroit before being promoted to patrol, and then detective, and continued to serve the community as an undercover narcotics officer and homicide detective.

After leaving Detroit, Dermyer served the community of Columbia Township as chief of police before finally retiring as the undersheriff of Lake County.

Besides being a beloved husband, son and father, Dermyer also was a devoted member of the AMVETS post and the AMVETS riders. Richard Perrin, his friend, fellow AMVET rider and former Lake County Sheriff’s Department member, helped organize the proceedings and said Dermyer deserved all of it and more.

“Today is a sign of reciprocal love for one another. Mike respected a lot of people and he commanded respect,” explained Perrin. “Even after he retired he was always looking for ways to help others. He helped me build my house and came by every day for a whole year. You felt good to be in the same room as him. He had a special energy.”

Dermyer received full military honors from many of those who knew him best.

His family, though saddened by their loss, were pleased at the level of love and support shown by the community.

“We hope everyone remembers all the good he did in the community and the way he cared for everyone, no matter which side of the law they were on,” said his son, Patrick Dermyer. “On behalf of the whole family, I’d like to extend a huge thank you to the community for all they’ve done for us and my father. Today was amazing.”

Many individuals, some of whom knew him personally, some from his military or AMVETS service and some from his time in law enforcement, spoke at length about Dermyer, and praised him as a hard worker, a giver and someone who never put the focus on himself. 

“Even a week before his death, he was still trying to help others,” remarked Chuck Davis, who worked with Dermyer many times when he served as undersheriff in Osceola County while Dermyer was undersheriff in Lake County.

Lake County Sheriff Dennis Robinson, who also served with Dermyer, agreed and added so many people attending the memorial services was a direct reflection of Dermyer’s effect on the people around him.

“He got involved in whatever he could, which means he affected the lives of a lot of people,” said Robinson. “He gave a lot and was always willing to lend a hand when you needed it. He spent 44 years in law enforcement, and when you do that, people will either love you or hate you; and people loved Mike for who he was and all he did.”

Although Dermyer himself may be gone, those attending the memorial services agreed his legacy was alive in the hearts of all those whose lives he touched. 

“It was a good ride today,” remarked Perrin. “I know Mike would have done the same for me.”