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Magistrate's death at 52 'a tragedy'

Don Maynard
May. 30, 2009 @ 11:47 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Cabell County Magistrate and retired police officer Don Maynard was the kind of guy people liked to be around. He almost always had a smile on his face and he contributed to the community in many ways, colleagues said Saturday.

Donald E. "Don" Maynard, 52, died unexpectedly Saturday, May 30, at St. Mary's Medical Center after a heart attack Friday night, according to his family. He leaves behind his wife, Stephanie Hinkle Maynard, his father, Eugene Maynard, his mother, Juanita Stanley, and two sons, Brandon Andrew "Andy" Maynard and Bradley Alexander "Alex" Maynard.

The well-known Huntington man was serving his first term as magistrate after being elected in November. Maynard previously retired from the Huntington Police Department after 26 years of service.

"This shook a lot of people last night. It was completely unexpected," Huntington Police Chief Skip Holbrook said Saturday.

Holbrook said he didn't have the opportunity to work alongside Maynard in the department for very long, but the two developed a friendship that continued after Maynard became magistrate.

He said Maynard impressed him right away.

"He is how you want someone to look in a uniform," Holbrook said. "His demeanor with the citizens was exemplary. He still had fun with work. You could tell he took a lot of pride in being a Huntington police officer and serving his citizens. I think that was why he was still serving citizens as a magistrate."

Maynard was very active, running in local races and heavily involved in the Police Olympics. He organized local concerts, worked on the Tri-State Transit Authority Executive Board and was awarded the "Medal of Valor," the highest decorated award a law enforcement officer can receive for risking his life to save others.

Maynard attended Marshall University and also graduated from West Virginia State Police Academy.

Huntington Police Capt. Hank Dial said he saw Maynard last week. He called Maynard the kind of guy people liked to be near.

"Don was just one of those all-around good guys. He was somebody you were always happy to work with and happy to see," he said.

Dial began working with Maynard on the police department in 1991. He said he was stunned when he heard the news.

"The last time I saw Don he had that typical big smile on his face," he said.

Wayne County Magistrate Randy Wiles knew Maynard for nearly 30 years. Their careers mirrored each other's as they worked for the Huntington Police Department and started training to become magistrates at the same time.

Wiles said Maynard loved his work as a police officer. When he retired, he looked forward to the possibility of another career.

"He really worked hard when he ran for magistrate, and it showed in the polls," Wiles said.

Wiles remembers Maynard asking him at magistrate training if he ever imagined they'd be where they were in their lives. He had a stable career and was able to provide for his family.

"Everything was totally upbeat. If you looked at him, he was in superb health. No one would have ever had a clue something like this would happen," Wiles said.

Dial said Maynard was diligent, but laid-back. He was very connected to the community and especially the youth, working with benefit concerts and as a school resource officer at Huntington High School.

Holbrook said Maynard was a great communicator and someone he'd never heard an ill word about. He was an asset to the police department and the community, he said.

"It's just a tremendous loss for everyone," Holbrook said.

Chief Judge Jane Hustead of Cabell County Circuit Court said everyone in the courthouse is upset by the unexpected death of their colleague.

"We're all just devastated. I know everybody is," she said.

Judge Dan O'Hanlon knew Maynard for almost 30 years. He used to work for O'Hanlon when he was a municipal judge in Huntington.

"He was a terrific magistrate. Although very new, he was hardworking," O'Hanlon said. "He will be sorely missed."

The Cabell County Judiciary released a statement saying, "Although only recently elected, Don was totally committed to serving the citizens of Cabell County and will be deeply missed by all who knew him. Only Friday, when asked to help a fellow magistrate, Don said 'Sure, I'm a team player, what needs to be done?' That generosity of spirit and dedication to his job was second nature to Don and will be hard to duplicate."

Judges will meet to appoint someone to fill the position next month, but no one is thinking about that right now, O'Hanlon said. He said their thoughts are with the family and focused on getting through the difficult time.

From his spotless office to the way he treated others, Maynard carried himself well and was always upbeat, Wiles said.

"It's just a tragedy that still hasn't sunk in -- somebody being my age or just a couple years younger than me, to be in the health he was in, to leave this earth so young," he said. "We really, at 50 years old, had a lot to look forward to. It's just been taken away from him and his family."

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Beard Mortuary. Burial will follow in Forest Memorial Park in Milton. Friends may call on Monday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Beard Mortuary.

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