KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo and surrounding communities gathered Friday to celebrate the life of a Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety officer who died last week, remembering him as a fighter and servant to others.

Christian Smith died Oct. 8 after a battle with leukemia. He was 32. He left behind a wife and two sons.

“Christian didn’t lose his fight with leukemia,” family friend Lena Wileczek said. “He remained his sarcastic, optimistic and lighthearted self until the end. Christian was a warrior through and through and he is home.”

She eulogized Smith at the funeral, though she instead labeled her remarks as a “letter to the people who loved Christian and those who never had the privilege.”

She also read a letter to Smith written by his wife Sam.

“Although my heart is entirely shattered and the world feels like it is moving in slow motion, I promise to pick myself up and continue to fill our home with love and laughter,” the letter said in part. “I promise to raise our boys to be kind and to follow Jesus, to teach them to hunt and fish and to allow them to become Ohio State fans, despite my better judgment.”

Friends and colleagues extolled Smith’s legacy of service. Before joining the force in 2016, Smith served in the Marine Corps. In his six years with KDPS, he was a police officer, firefighter, field training officer, member of the K-9 team and drug investigator with the multijurisdictional Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team task force.

For his years of meritorious service, Smith was posthumously awarded the Chief’s Award of Excellence by Interim Chief David Boysen.

“Christian is and will always be remembered as one of our best officers,” Boysen said.

“Although he was diagnosed with a mortal affliction, he fought fiercely and courageously, demonstrating a willingness to never give up,” he continued. “Even as his body was failing him, his mind, his spirit was ready to come back to work. He is an example to all of us. … We keep Christian’s spirit in mind.”

Funeral proceedings began with a long line of police cruisers escorting Smith to the church and included an end-of-watch call over the radio, taps and gun salute.

“Godspeed, brother. Rest easy,” Boysen said. “We’ll take it from here.”

Donations to support Smith’s family may be made at Lake Michigan Credit Union to an account under Samantha Smith’s name. Letters of condolence may be sent to the police department.