The 5½ years I’ve spent with the Livingston Parish News have brought their share of annual events, many of which have become something of annual traditions.
Sheriff Jason Ard’s annual Christmas Crusade has always been one of my favorites, largely because of the difference it makes for underprivileged families. It’s something we don’t see much in other areas.
I’ve also been fascinated by the undertaking it entails, ranging from the screening of applicants and purchase of toys to the deliveries across a large parish (something else I’ve learned over the years).
The opening festivities for the Christmas Crusade also brought me around many of the folks from the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office whom I may see when I’m out and about.
This year, one of the key players was not at the event. Sgt. Bobby Dillon, who died in early January, was truly one of the intricate figures behind the scenes at the event.
Over the years, I got to know Bobby pretty well, first from the Parish Courthouse and later from the work with the Christmas Crusade
He was always one of those who seemed eager to get the show on the road each year of the Crusade, largely because he enjoyed seeing the faces on the kids and the parents when they arrived at the door.
In many cases, Dillon already knew the family, and I doubt there were many people he did not know in Livingston Parish. The word “ubiquitous” would describe him accurately – he was seemingly everywhere.
From a personal standpoint, I remember him teasing me every time I’d go through the security check in the front of the courthouse. Between pocket change, pens, phone, and countless other items I’d carry in my pocket, he’d always make sure to take a little dig at me: “Any day now, Mr. Dupont,” he’d say.
Bobby also guided me through the area my first year covering the Crusade, when I wasn’t quite familiar with the area, as of yet. I’d follow him, and he was always patient and helpful along the way.
Once he got to the door, his eyes would light up each time he would deliver another package, as is the case with the other members of LSPO on the delivery run.
I still remember something he said every year: “This is what I live for,” he said. “For all the other stuff we have to do day in and day out, this makes the work worthwhile.”
Bobby usually stood in the corner during the event, donned in a Santa hat but not wanting to be the center of attention. Quite often, it’s the individuals behind the scenes who help make the gears turn every bit as much as the people who get the show rolling.
The leader can only do so much, so it takes a few integral players behind the scenes to ensure the process flows smoothly. We saw that with this year’s event, and much of that came from Bobby.
One year has elapsed since he passed, but it’s obviously that all of his colleagues from Sheriff Ard on down still feel a void.
It says a lot about what they thought of him and volumes about what he meant to the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office.