John R. Lyght, a pioneering legend in Minnesota law enforcement, died Friday Jan. 15, at age 82 at North Shore Hospital in Grand Marais.
John was born Oct. 1, 1927, to H.P. and Stella Jefferson Jones Lyght in Lutsen, where he was a lifelong resident. After attending Cook County schools, he served in the Air Force.
He was employed by Foster Forbes Glass Co. as manager for their summer resort, and was a bus driver for Cook County School District for 19 years.
John served as a deputy sheriff for many years, until being appointed Cook County sheriff in 1972 and quickly won the respect of the county’s mostly Scandinavian-heritage population. Two years later in his first election, he won with 97.4 percent of the vote. Tall and imposing, he served Cook County for 22½ years, retiring in 1994, as the only elected black sheriff in the state.
When he wasn’t working, he enjoyed fishing. John was a member of the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association and the Minnesota Police and Peace Officer’s Association.
John was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife, Anne; a granddaughter, Debi Greer; and brothers and sisters, Esther, Burt, Melvin, Norman, Willis, Mary, Martha, Emma, David and Robert.
John is survived by his wife, Gayle; his children, Mary Anne (Tom) Greer of Texas, Bill (Ronell) Lyght of Arizona and Barbara Lyght (Don) Seaburg of Minnesota; Gayle’s children, Melinda Boon of Man., and Donna (Stewart) Luchies of Alb.;
10 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren; sisters, Hattie and Shelia of Minneapolis, and brothers, Art (Lutye) of Minneapolis and Jesse (Barbara) of Thunder Bay.
VISITATION: 10 a.m. until the 11 a.m. service on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010, at Lutsen Evangelical Lutheran Church, followed by burial in Lutsen Cemetery. Arrange-ments by Cavallin Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, memorial are preferred to Lutsen EMS/First Respond-ers, P.O. Box 151 Lutsen, MN 556l2.