A superhero laid to rest


By Joe Gilroy - [email protected]



Bluffton Police Department Chief Ryan Burkholder presents fallen Officer Dominic Francis’ wife, Rickie, a Purple Heart medal during his funeral services Friday, April 8, 2022, in Bluffton.

Bluffton Police Department Chief Ryan Burkholder presents fallen Officer Dominic Francis’ wife, Rickie, a Purple Heart medal during his funeral services Friday, April 8, 2022, in Bluffton.


Emily McBride | The Lima News

Flowers, American flags, police flags and blue ribbons were at the memorial site for fallen Bluffton Police Department Officer Dominic Francis, who was killed in the line of duty during a police chase on Thursday, March 31, 2022. His funeral was Friday in Bluffton.

Flowers, American flags, police flags and blue ribbons were at the memorial site for fallen Bluffton Police Department Officer Dominic Francis, who was killed in the line of duty during a police chase on Thursday, March 31, 2022. His funeral was Friday in Bluffton.


Richard Parrish | The Lima News

BLUFFTON — A real-life “superhero” whose last act on earth personified his courage and selfless devotion to serve and protect was laid to rest on Friday.

Bluffton Police Officer Dominic M. “Dom” Francis was killed in the line of duty on March 31 when he was struck by a vehicle that had been involved in a multi-county chase.

Several thousand mourners filled Bluffton University’s Sommer Center to show their last respects to the “peacemaker” and a son of the community who died protecting the very community he was born and raised in. The seemingly large sampling of individuals that encompassed all walks of life was but mere teardrops in the ocean compared to totality of lives Francis touched.

During the week leading up to his funeral, the picture beyond Francis’ badge started revealing itself as if a masterpiece’s unveiling cloth being tugged by Picasso, bit by bit after each new detail of an extradorinarily lived life of servitude to others was revealed. Francis was a dedicated police officer but he was also so much more.

“He wasn’t just a police officer; he was a teacher, he was a coach, he was a fireman,” Allen County Sheriff Matt Treglia said. “It’s going to be a great loss to this community, it’s going to be a great loss to law enforcement, and it’s going to be a great loss to all the kids he mentored.”

Francis was an active supporter and advocate of Cory-Rawson High School, serving as a strength and conditioning coach, football coach, substitute teacher, bus driver and sometimes mechanic. Bluffton Police Chief Ryan Burkholder confirmed Treglia’s earlier statements through several poignant stories he retold while fighting tears.

“Dominic was a husband, father, son, brother, co-worker and friend,” Chief Burkholder said. “He carried the weight of the badge to the fullest extent. He loved his job.”

The sounds of chatter amongst Francis’ family, friends, brothers and sisters within law enforcement as well as the Cory-Rawson students he mentored turned silent when the all-to-familiar haunting notes of bagpipers played “Going Home” as fellow police officers carried Francis’ flag-draped coffin inside.

The Movement Church Pastor Eric Ferguson officiated the service and provided a glimpse of the Francis he knew.

“He would do whatever was needed,” Ferguson said alluding to Francis’ willingness to help. “The most common sentiment was that Francis was a brother from another mother.”

Burkholder — a Bluffton High School graduate — and Francis have known each other for more than 20 years given the close proximity between Bluffton and the rural villages and towns making up Cory-Rawson Local Schools.

“I miss him coming in the office in the morning and saying, ‘Hey boss,’” Chief Burkholder said. He had to pause to collect himself; he was choking up at the memory.“He had your six. Always.”

Burkholder posthumously honored Francis by presenting his family with the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart during his speech.

Following the service a procession of police officers, Ohio State Highway Patrol, fire, EMS and other first responder vehicles was led by a Cory-Rawson School bus to Clymer Cemetery in Mt. Cory. The procession route was lined by individuals saluting as the convoy passed by and through a pair of ladder trucks holding a large American flag in front of the Bluffton Fire Department.

Bluffton Police Department Chief Ryan Burkholder presents fallen Officer Dominic Francis’ wife, Rickie, a Purple Heart medal during his funeral services Friday, April 8, 2022, in Bluffton.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/04/web1_Officer-Killed-Highway-Chase-6-1.jpgBluffton Police Department Chief Ryan Burkholder presents fallen Officer Dominic Francis’ wife, Rickie, a Purple Heart medal during his funeral services Friday, April 8, 2022, in Bluffton. Emily McBride | The Lima News
Flowers, American flags, police flags and blue ribbons were at the memorial site for fallen Bluffton Police Department Officer Dominic Francis, who was killed in the line of duty during a police chase on Thursday, March 31, 2022. His funeral was Friday in Bluffton.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/04/web1_Officer-Killed-Highway-Chase-1.jpgFlowers, American flags, police flags and blue ribbons were at the memorial site for fallen Bluffton Police Department Officer Dominic Francis, who was killed in the line of duty during a police chase on Thursday, March 31, 2022. His funeral was Friday in Bluffton. Richard Parrish | The Lima News

By Joe Gilroy

[email protected]

Reach Joe Gilroy at 567-242-0398 or on Twitter @TLNJoeGilroy

Reach Joe Gilroy at 567-242-0398 or on Twitter @TLNJoeGilroy

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