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'I’ve got a lot to say': Retired MN sheriff's deputy writes his own obituary

Tim Yerigan died November 14 at the age of 57.

By his own admission, Tim Yerigan was "never without words." So it's only fitting that the longtime sheriff's deputy would use his final ones to say goodbye.

The Granite Falls resident died November 14 at the age of 57 after a battle with cancer. His passing came about two years after he retired from the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff's Office, which he had served for 30 years.

But he left something unusual behind: a self-written obituary that serves as both autobiography and love letter — to his wife, to his children and grandchildren. 

"My life has been quite a journey," it begins. "Like in life, I’ve got a lot to say." 

The obit, which can be found on the Anderson-TeBeest Funeral Home's website, goes through Yerigan's early life in Cambridge, Minnesota, and details the path that eventually led him to law enforcement in Yellow Medicine County. In addition to his work as a sheriff's deputy there, he also served as court security director and emergency management director.

"This was among my greatest accomplishments," he added. 

That may be so, but the bulk of Yerigan's goodbye letter belongs to his family.

Joining the sheriff’s office brought me to Granite Falls. That is where the best thing in my life happened. I met and married Tan. She was the love of my life. We built our life in rural Granite Falls, on our small farm, and raised our five children together. I never knew what love was, or could be, before her. She was my best friend. All I ever wanted to do was be with her, take care of her, and make her happy. And we were so happy! Every day, I looked forward to being with her and spending another day together in some way, whether at home sipping a cup of coffee or off on some amazing adventure. Oh, my sweetheart, there were so many. With Tan, it was no longer just me. We became one. There was no longer a mine or me, but rather us, we, and ours. If something was for me, it was for her. Tan, never forget: “When I count my blessings, I count you twice.” 

He goes on to talk about the five kids they had together, one of whom, Clint, died in 2006. 

It was our greatest honor in life to raise our five children together. We enjoyed time at home for family suppers and fun. We also loved it when we were at the cabin, in one big house, together again. Whether fishing, sitting around a campfire, or all piled on the couch watching a movie, it was great. We loved weekends together in one house just like when you were little. Mom and I would just sit back and ooze with pride. I hope they each know the joy and honor it brought their mom and me to be blessed with each of them. They grew to become such outstanding adults who were not only our kids but also our friends. 

He concludes his obituary on a hopeful note:

Cancer ravaged my body, but don’t remember me like that. Remember me active. Remember my laugh, my smile, and the sparkle in my eyes. When they shut for the last time, which they must have by now, I can’t wait to be greeted at the gates by God. I will ask Him to allow me to continue to watch over Tan, our kids, and our grandkids. Once God and I are done, I will mess up Clint’s hair and give him the biggest hug. Until we meet again…see you later! 

Yerigan's wife, Tanya Yerigan, a professor of education at Southwest Minnesota State University, published a book in 2014 called "No Ordinary Son: A journey through death and living again" about the passing of her and Tim's son, Clint, who died at the age of 16. 

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