VACAVILLE — Those who spoke about slain California Highway Patrol Officer Kenyon Youngstrom nearly ran out of adjectives to describe the good-natured man who loved to make people smile, on and off the job.
In an overwhelming show of brotherhood and unity, more than 2,500 officers from around the state and nation attended Youngstrom’s memorial service at The Mission church in Vacaville. In all, an excess of 4,000 people filled the main auditorium, an overflow gymnasium and spread across the grounds of the church to pay respects to the officer shot and killed during a traffic stop near Alamo last week.
Included in the group was Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Those who took the podium near the flag-draped casket traded jokes and tears as they described Youngstrom’s influence on them and just about anyone he met. Whether it was a tale about a prank the department pulled on him as a rookie or the way his son described his gyrating touchdown dance, it was clear Youngstrom’s legacy would endure.
“He loved to make people smile. That was like his hobby. He was always ready for fun,” son Alex Youngstrom said during a poised speech full of anecdotes. “My dad loved all you guys, and I can tell you loved him.”
Past superiors and co-workers with CHP described his propensity to write speeding tickets, the promise he showed early in the CHP academy and how he used to show off pictures of his wife and four children. Youngstrom, 37, is survived by his wife, Karen, and children Alex, 17, Madison, 13, Andrew, 10, and Kennedy, 5.
Tyler Carlton, Youngstrom’s partner who shot and killed his assailant during the incident, muscled through an emotional speech about his friend and fellow officer.
“No matter how hard of a day we had on the road, he’d come back with a smile on his face and encouraging words,” Carlton said. “Ken, I know you can hear me. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for always being there for me.”
Clinton Youngstrom described his fellow triplet as a brother, hero and a friend who let everyone know he was a CHP officer with pride. He passed on his gratitude and appreciation for all those who have helped the family as they mourn, especially the CHP.
“They’ve done something to my heart. I feel like I have hundreds of new friends,” Clinton Youngstrom said. “We love each and every one of you.”
After the service, CHP officers stood brim to brim as they formed a phalanx where the casket and family exited the service. Led by two CHP officers on horseback, the hearse inched away from the group, flanked on either side by officers placing a hand on the vehicle. A line of squad cars followed the family as they headed to a private ceremony at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon.
Earlier, Youngstrom’s body arrived from St. Helena, escorted by around 100 patrol cars and motorcycles. That included a procession of stretch SUVs that carried his family.
They were greeted at the church by saluting officers while they passed underneath a large flag hoisted by two fire engines. That procession had passed underneath overpasses in Fairfield manned by firefighters and police who showed their support to Youngstrom’s family.
Donations can be made to the Kenyon Marc Youngstrom Children’s Benefit Memorial Fund at any Wells Fargo bank.
Danny Bernardini can be reached at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr.