POST FALLS - Officer Pete had a way with kids. His gentle spirit shone in the community.
Pete Marion, who was Post Falls' first school resource officer and later became the face of Cabela's in Post Falls, was found dead at his Post Falls-area home on Monday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 63.
"Pete had a passion for whatever he did," said Post Falls police Chief Scot Haug. "Every time he'd go into a classroom he was like a rock star. The kids would go wild about Officer Pete.
"We're very proud of the relationship that we have with the school district that started with Pete as SRO."
Haug said he spoke with Marion about a week ago.
He said Marion had suffered from recent medical conditions, was in pain, having difficulties walking and preparing for surgery. He didn't show signs of depression, Haug said.
"He seemed to be doing fine, was seeking treatment and was trying to quit smoking," Haug said.
Marion started at Post Falls police in 1982 as a dispatcher before holding multiple other jobs, including patrol officer, sergeant and detective. He retired as an SRO in 2007.
Marion became the marketing director at Cabela's in Post Falls after it opened. He worked at the outdoors retail business until the time of his death.
"He was the perfect fit for that job because he dealt with people well," Haug said. "You couldn't help but to stop and talk to Pete."
As of Tuesday afternoon, PFPD's Facebook post about Marion's death had generated nearly 300 comments and 400 "likes."
"As a kid, I used to think that my dad was a celebrity because everyone in town always wanted hugs and pictures with him, even autographs," Marion's son, Mick Marion, wrote on Facebook. "I am so thankful that all of you made him feel so happy and proud."
Alisha Christine wrote that Marion was her favorite DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) instructor.
"I remember sitting at lunch with him in first grade and so excited to get to have lunch with a police officer," Christine wrote. "Officer Pete was an inspirational and intimidating individual when I was in elementary and made me feel safe cause he was looking out for us."
Monty Boyd added: "He taught me one very valuable lesson in DARE. It's not how many friends you have. It's the quality."
Post Falls school superintendent Jerry Keane said Marion enjoyed working with both students and staff.
"He was able to make difficult situations seem not as difficult," Keane said. "He had a great sense of humor that made people feel better about what was going on and his presence always calmed people down and made them feel safe.
"He had a particular skill at making home visits with the parents of students who were having difficulty. The district and I will miss him. I already do."
Haug said Marion requested that no memorial service be held.