With tears, along with smiles, a group gathered in Asher Friday to remember two Pottawatomie County sheriff's deputies killed one year ago as a memorial highway dedication ceremony was held naming SH 39 between Asher and Konawa in their memory.
Signs for the Mike Roberts and Tim Lowry Memorial Highway were installed on SH 39 in Asher for eastbound traffic, while the westbound sign was installed near Konawa.
The reserve deputies, who were traveling together in a patrol car while serving arrest warrants on Sept. 30, 2011, were killed in a traffic accident along SH 39 near Asher.
A memorial highway dedication ceremony was first held at Asher City Hall, where family members, sheriff's deputies and others gathered as Oklahoma Department of Transportation workers were busy installing the signs.
Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth addressed the crowd and said he wears a bracelet that reads, "Heroes live forever."
"And they do — Mike and Tim will be forever with us in our hearts," Booth said. "At the sheriff's office, they're with us all the time — they're with us when we go out on warrant sweeps, they're always with us."
Booth said the dedication of the highway will let everyone know that both heroes will live on forever in Pottawatomie County.
"We lost two incredible men about a year ago. Even though they're not with us, they're with us spiritually and in our hearts," Booth said, adding everyone seeing the signs will realize the sacrifice both made to serve their community.
"It's such an honor," said Kathy Lowry, the widow of Tim Lowry, adding that he worked many volunteer hours as a reserve deputy in the community.
Reinee Roberts, the widow of Deputy Mike Roberts, brought their daughter, Kate, to the ceremony. She said she's appreciative to the commissioners and those responsible for the memorial highway to honor both men.
"They'll always be in our hearts…now they'll live on for everyone else too."
Roberts' sister, Margaret Mocabee, said it will be bittersweet to see the signs when traveling that roadway.
"It's such a great honor — auch a tribute to Mike and Tim," Mocabee said.
After the formal ceremonies, it was reported that ODOT workers had completed installation of the sign near SH 39 and U.S. 177, so deputies and Asher police briefly shut down the highway and then slowed traffic to allow one vehicle at a time pass through so family members could gather at the site of the sign itself.
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Pottawatomie County commissioners purchased the two highway signs at a cost of $750 each and ODOT crews will maintain them.
District 2 County Commissioner Jerry Richards said Roberts and Lowry gave their lives for their community, "and we'll never forget."
District 3 Commissioner Eddie Stackhouse said Booth, along with State Rep. Josh Cockroft, worked to make the memorial highway a reality, so Cockroft, along with Senator Susan Paddack, were on hand for the ceremony.
Cockroft, who said the highway is meant to honor two incredible men, said as drivers pass, they'll know two respected men.
"And to the families, our prayers are with you," Cockroft said.
Senator Paddack said she hopes every time a person drives by and sees the signs, they'll say a prayer of thanks for the service both men gave to the community and for their families.
Lowry and Roberts also were remembered earlier this year when their names were added to the state's Oklahoma Law Enforcement Memorial in Oklahoma City as well as the national memorial in Washington D.C.
In Pottawatomie County, efforts also are underway to build a county law enforcement memorial at the courthouse to honor Lowry and Roberts, as well as 15 other law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty in this area since the late-1800s.
Pottawatomie County Undersheriff Travis Palmer said they hope to unveil that memorial with a dedication ceremony sometime in November. Once completed, that memorial wall will be on the lawn in front of the Pottawatomie County courthouse in Shawnee.
Stackhouse said he appreciates the city of Asher and its staff for use of its city hall during Friday's event.