Mourners in Council Bluffs are missing a friend, co-worker and mentor.
Police Lt. Ben Roth, 38, died Saturday from colon cancer.
His funeral was Wednesday.
Sgt. Bo Wake says he worked with Roth the full 18 years the lieutenant was in Council Bluffs, protecting the community he grew up in.
“He always used to say to recruits 'when you're talking with someone on the street, talk with them like you'd want your mother or sister, brother, uncle to be talked to, you don't have to be a jerk,’” Wake said.
In 18 years, Wake says Roth never complained, no matter what time of day, what the weather was or how dark the task ahead.
"The thing I'm always going to take away from this with Ben is that he always made me laugh,” Wake said. “I can recite every single one-liner from anchor man 20 times over because of that guy.”
That positive outlook left its mark.
"He loved coaching kids, he loved being a positive role model for kids in their lives, and a lot of those things are between him and the people he did them for,” Wake said.
Every person we met on the street say they will miss Lt. Roth.
(wayne Moore, Council Bluffs)
“It means a lot to the community, another good officer is gone, and this world needs good officers,” said Council Bluffs resident Wayne Moore.
(rich Vokt, citizen)
“As a community, this is a really, really hard day,” said Rich Vokt, resident. “It's emotional and it takes pride, a lot of pride.”
While Roth’s impact on the department, on the community, will live on, Sgt. Wake says Roth's shoes will be hard to fill.
"We’ll carry on,” Wake said. “I wouldn't say business as usual, because we aren't going to carry Ben with us, but we are going to carry his legacy. We're going to carry the way he handled himself, we're going to keep giving back to the community the way he did.”
As the procession made its way to rural, rolling hills of Garner Township, where the Lieutenant is buried, Wake recalls his last memories of his boss and close friend.
“The last conversation I had with Ben was the Wednesday before he passed away. …I asked him ‘are you sad?’ He said, ‘no, I’m not said. I’m pretty happy.’ I asked him if he was scared and h said, ‘yeah of course I’m scared.’ We talked about fear and how he faced it, and I could see then, the way he was looking at me, that he was ready to go and he was the same person, he was the same kid when he first came on. He was just that kid again. I was looking at my 20-year-old friend.”
During the procession Council Bluffs streets were lined with people showing their support for the police department and Lt. Roth.
An elementary school had students lined along a sidewalk not far from the funeral home were services took place, with signs thanking the veteran officer – and messages the kids would give Roth if they could.