Former Pacific County Sheriff John Didion, 66, died Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 10, at St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland without regaining consciousness after suffering a cardiac arrest at his home in Naselle over the weekend.
Didion had a 35-year career with the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office. He first served as a road deputy, then as the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officer, presenting programs to elementary school students throughout Pacific County. During that time, he also became the DARE Program Coordinator for the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Academy, where he taught others teacher of the program that was implements in schools throughout the state at the time.
He also served as a member of the Gang Resistance, Education and Training (GREAT) Program national Training Team, and on several law-enforcement boards and commissions.
Didion worked his way up through the ranks in the sheriff’s office and was named the Washington State Police Officer of the Year in 1997.
He ran for and was elected to the office of Pacific County Sheriff for three consecutive terms from 1998 to 2010.
He also served as president of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police in 2010.
Among other accomplishments, during his tenure as sheriff, Didion modernized his department, created a drug task force, and despite state budget cuts, successfully worked to keep the Naselle Youth Camp for at-risk youth open.
Following an unsuccessful bid for a fourth term as sheriff, Didion retired from law enforcement in 2010.
Law enforcement was Didion’s second career, following a successful professional football career as a linebacker for the Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints. He was selected in the seventh round of the 1969 NFL Draft by Washington where he played from 1969-70 before moving to the New Orleans for the 70-74 seasons.
Didion is survived by his wife, Anne Marie, their children and grandchildren.