Living by the Golden Rule; Dep. Lou Mantho retires after 23 years of service.

September 22, 2015
Lou Mantho smiles as he drives the sheriff's office's Boston Whaler.

Lou Mantho smiles as he drives the sheriff’s office’s Boston Whaler.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

There are people in this world who have a gift to create positive change in people’s lives.  Lou Mantho is one of those people.

For the past 23 years, Lou has served as a Mason County Sheriff’s Office reservist, corrections deputy and marine patrol deputy. The career has been more than a job to him, it’s been a calling. This summer, after receiving a diagnosis of a rare form of pancreatic cancer, Lou, 70, retired from the department.

badger coast guard sheriff marineHe started with MCSO in 1992 as a volunteer reservist.

“I worked for an auto parts company and was transferred here from my hometown of Allen Park,” Lou says. “There was an opening and I had enjoyed visiting this area. There was something about northern Michigan that I really liked. After moving here, I got involved with the sheriff’s office. Unfortunately the company I was working for went out of business, but I decided to stick around. Sheriff Larry Stewart hired me in 1995 as a marine patrol deputy. I performed those duties for two summers and then in 1996 I was hired as a full time corrections officer.”

Lou worked in the jail for 10 years and then retired from the department for health reasons. After a year, he felt the calling again and was hired back by Sheriff Laude Hatrum as a marine patrol deputy, a job he served from 2007 until this summer.

In his usual soft voice, Lou speaks about his philosophy as a deputy:

lew mantho kim cole mason county sheriff marine“It’s the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” he says. “I have always lived with that philosophy in every aspect of my life, including work.”

He says he enjoyed corrections and marine patrol.

“They were both rewarding,” he says. “Being a marine deputy, I could get more involved with people on the water. I always wanted to make sure people were enjoying themselves but also wanted to assure they were doing it safely. Patrolling the waterways was rewarding because people were out to have fun. My goal was never to give anyone a hard time but strictly to assure they were being safe. I got to meet some wonderful people on the lakes through the years.”

He speaks equally about corrections.

“I always made sure we created an environment where the inmates could interact with the officers in a safe and respectful manner, making sure that I went home safely at night and that my crew made it home safely. The jail is a microcosm of daily life on the street. I would always hope that we could treat the prisoners as humans in the hopes that they could be rehabilitated back into normal society and be productive contributors to that society.”

Lou’s girlfriend, Kelly Winters, who is also a corrections deputy, says it is common for former inmates to come up to Lou in a store and let him know how much of an influence he was on their lives. She said just recently a man had traveled from North Carolina to Ludington and made an effort to see if Lou was still working at the jail.

lew_Mantho“He had been in jail here 18 years ago and wanted to thank Lou for having such a positive impact on his life,” Kelly says.

As a marine patrol deputy, Lou has had a lot of interaction with the public. He has a reputation as a deputy who prefers to educate those who have broken a law rather than punish them. 

Lou says he pretty much knows every waterway in Mason County, but Hamlin Lake is his favorite.

“It’s the busiest lake with the most boating traffic for both fishing and pleasure. There’s a lot of activity on that lake. You could pretty much combine all the activity of every other inland lake in Mason County and that would not be as busy as Hamlin Lake.”

After being diagnosed with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors in late June, Lou decided it was time to retire and focus on treatment and family.

The cancer is not treatable by radiation or chemotherapy. He has been prescribed a drug to take and receives monthly injections. Most pancreatic cancers are aggressive and life expectancy is short. However, in Lou’s case, doctors have estimated a 3 to 5 year survival rate.

He says he is hopeful that doctors may be able to extend that.

“They are constantly finding new treatments,” he says.

He says he is thankful for all the support he has received from the sheriff’s office, family and from the community.

Sheriff Kim Cole says he is thankful for Lou’s service.

“Lou left some pretty big shoes to fill,” Cole says. “He is one of the most respected law enforcement officers in this county and has devoted his life to serving and protecting the people here. Though he has retired, he’s still part of our family and he has the full support of the local emergency services community.”

Editor’s note: On July 11, 2015, Sheriff Kim Cole called me and asked if I would document Lou’s last official marine patrol. We met at Harbor View Marina, where the sheriff’s office patrol boat is docked. I rode on Ludington Police and Fire Marine 1 patrol boat shooting video and photographing Lou from a distance. I videoed him escorting the S.S. Badger into port and then we went back out so I could get some close-ups. The U.S. Coast Guard also came out, at the sheriff’s request, to salute Lou.

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