Former sheriff Ira Schoppmann, who served more than 32 years, mourned in Iron County

Composite image. Background: file photo of Iron County Sheriff's Office, Cedar City, Utah, April 15, 2015, taken by Devan Chavez. Inset photo of former Iron County Sheriff Ira Schoppmann, courtesy of Iron County Sheriff's Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Iron County residents and officials are mourning the loss of former sheriff Ira Schoppmann, who died Sunday at age 88.

Schoppmann, described as “one of the last true Western sheriffs,” was first elected as Iron County Sheriff in 1966 and remained in that position for more than 32 years until he retired in 1999. Toward the end of his tenure, he was believed to be the longest continuously serving sheriff in the United States.

Tuesday evening, the Iron County Commission released a statement expressing condolences and directed that flags at all Iron County facilities be flown at half-staff from Thursday through Saturday, the day of Schoppmann’s scheduled funeral in Cedar City.

“He served with distinction and was always ready with a warm handshake or words of fatherly advice,” the commission’s statement said.

Iron County Sheriff’s Lt. Del Schlosser told Cedar City News that he fondly remembers being hired by Schoppmann 23 years ago.

Ira Schoppmann, who retired as Iron County Sheriff in 1999 after serving more than 32 years. Schoppmann died Feb. 28, 2021 at age 88. Family photo courtesy of Southern Utah Mortuary, St. George News / Cedar City News

“Although we only worked together for a few years, he was a mentor and teacher,” Schlosser said.

Schlosser called Schoppmann “the people’s sheriff.”

“He was open to anyone coming to see him anytime without appointment,” Schlosser said. “If a citizen called, he was there to listen. He always worked to be part of events and support the community.”

He added that Schoppmann seemed to know people everywhere he went.

“He could recall anyone’s family and knew them well,” he said. “I always thought of him as a walking genealogy resource.  If Ira didn’t know them or their family, it was rare.”

“As a person he was your best friend. He treated you like one of his one family members,” Schlosser added. 

It is with great sadness we announce the passing of retired Sheriff Ira Schoppmann. Schoppmann served as Iron County…

Posted by Iron County Sheriff’s Office on Monday, March 1, 2021

Former Cedar City Mayor Harold Shirley, who was mayor at the time of Schoppmann’s retirement, told Cedar City News that Schoppmann was “easy to work with, from the city’s point of view.”

“The Sheriff’s Department under Ira and our Police Department worked hand-in-glove together,” Shirley said, citing an example of when the two departments put together a joint drug task force.

“He was the same with everyone,” Shirley added. “Whether he was doing something for the Lions Club … at church, or just you meet him in the grocery store, Ira was the same everywhere you’d see him.”

Schoppmann’s obituary, posted Wednesday evening, described him as “a friend to everyone, a true peace officer.”

“His motto was treat people the way you want to be treated,” the obituary adds. “He truly was the Andy Griffin of Iron County. He was Sheriff not just by badge but by the heart. He never let the job go to his head.”

Schoppmann is preceded in death by his wife, Beverly, who died in 2016. Survivors include their five children: Trudy Milne, Danise (John) Decuir, Kendall Schoppmann, Jackie (Bobby) Perkins and Rebecca (Greg) DeMille; along with 20 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Funeral services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Southern Utah Mortuary, 190 North 300 West, Cedar City. Viewings will be held at the mortuary Friday from 5-7 p.m. and Saturday from 9-9:45 a.m. Interment will be at the Cedar City Cemetery. The link to the live video stream of the funeral service can be found here. Schoppmann’s full obituary can be found online.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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