Honoring Fallen MN DNR Conservation Officer Eugene Wynn with Blue Roses
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Officer Eugene Wynn tragically lost his life in the line of duty on April 19, 2019 while responding to a call on Cross Lake in Pine City. He leaves behind a wife and two young children. We mourn with his wife and want her to know that her loss is felt deeply by so many others.
This organization was founded back in 2012 upon the loss of Officer Shawn Schneider, who was shot during a domestic incident and later died. A small group of police wives felt called to do something special to honor Officer Schneider and stand in solidarity in support of his wife and family. Today, while the numbers have grown from about a dozen wives and significant others, to more than 2,300, the desire to be there for our sisters in blue remains steadfast.
The Day Before the Funeral: Preparing the Roses
On April 25, 2019, the night before his funeral, dozens of Backing the Blue Line (BTBL) members (police wives/partners/girlfriends/fiancees of Minnesota POST certified law enforcement officers) prepared 2,000 blue roses for distribution at his funeral. Of the thirty plus women who were there, many were from the Pine City / Pine County area, There were women from the Duluth area and women from the metro area who converged to provide a sense of sisterhood and support to a community grieving an unexpected loss. While it was a tragic occasion which brought us together, it was also a chance to forge new bonds and make our law enforcement community stronger. Many of the women have been members of the Private Backing the Blue Line Facebook Group and throughout the night, they began to recognize each other from posts and photos. For some, even just the small piece of being able to put a name and face together, brought comfort and peace.
Pine City Fire Department graciously opened its fire station to us so we would have room for the rose prep volunteers and equipment. They welcomed us with open arms and there was always a Pine City firefighter nearby to lend a hand when something was needed. Not only did they make sure we had what we needed, but a large majority of the department volunteered to assist in transporting all 2,000 roses at the end of the night to the Civic Center. Thank you, Pine City Fire Department, for your time and support.
The 2,000 long stemmed roses were delivered by Backing the Blue Line's Official Florist, A Johnson and Sons Florist, located on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. A Johnson and Sons were just recently selected and they did an AMAZING job meeting our organization's needs on a tight timeline. We are most grateful for their service and professionalism.
Backing the Blue Line would like to thank the Pizza Pub of Pine City for their extremely generous donation of pizzas. Their delicious pizzas fed the volunteers who prepared the 2,000 blue roses. Your kindness and generosity are so appreciated. Thank you!
The support of the community helps us help Minnesota law enforcement officers and their families.
The Day of the Funeral: Handing out 2,000 Symbols of Honor Early in the day, Backing the Blue Line announced silence across its social media channels out of respect for the somber day.
Another team of BTBL members assembled at the Pine City Civic Center and handed out the memorial roses to Officer Wynn's family members, friends and members of the law enforcement community mourning his sacrifice.
Amy Dingman, one of our leadership team volunteers, shared these thoughts afterwards: "I have learned several things being married to someone in law enforcement. One of those things is that line of duty death funerals are difficult and never get easier—and yet somehow they are also strangely...beautiful.
Today I stood with Backing the Blue Line and handed out blue roses at the funeral of Conservation Officer Eugene Wynn who drowned last Friday after responding to a call of a body in the water. I don't consider myself to be an emotional person, and yet I've never really been able to put into words the magnitude of feelings that hit you at a law enforcement funeral. And for me, it's not even necessarily the "sadness" of the occasion that gets me (although it's certainly sad). What always gets me is the many, many, m-a-n-y officers that come from all over (our state and the entire country) to pay their final respects. See, at some point you realize you're part of a really amazing family that you didn't even know you wanted to be a part of. The way I see it is this. A line of duty death funeral is a sacred place. We all come together because on some level, we *have* to. To be reminded that this life that we chose—or were tossed into—it actually matters. And when a lot of people *out there in the world* call you every name in the book and say no, it doesn't matter, we gather around a casket to say, "yeah, actually it does. It did matter, and it always will."
Thank you for your service, Conservation Officer Eugene Wynn.
Photo Gallery: Rose Prep and Funeral Service As Captured by Members of Backing the Blue Line