WHITESTOWN — One has to look no further for the legacy of Oneida County Sheriff’s Deputy Kurt B. Wyman than the sight of his young daughter Adyson, traipsing across the sidewalk in her pink floral dress in front of a line of sheriff’s deputies.
Adyson Jynnette Wyman turned one today. It is also the one-year anniversary of the day her father was killed in the line of duty.
"I haven’t built the day up to be awful, because I don’t want to relive it. I’ve been attempting to focus on Adyson," said the widow Lauren Wyman this morning after a remembrance ceremony at the Sheriff’s Office on Judd Road.
"Without her last year, I don’t know how I would have gotten through everything. She was my bit of strength, my bit of hope."
Lauren went into labor on the day her husband was shot and killed, giving birth at St. Luke’s Hospital some 16 hours after the shooting. Though Deputy Wyman never got to meet his daughter, he did pick the little girl’s name. Lauren said both she and her late husband had each picked a potential name, and were going to wait until after the birth to decide which one.
But lying in that hospital bed, surrounded by her parents and in-laws, Lauren said she picked Kurt’s choice of ‘Adyson Jynnette’ — named for her grandmothers.
"Having my family around, it let me break, so I could mourn my loss," Lauren stated. "I had a good partner and a good communicator, and that’s definitely something I’ll miss."
Though Adyson did not have a speech prepared — having only learned to baby talk about a week ago — her giggles and gurgles brought smiles to the faces of dozens of family, friends and fellow law enforcers this morning. They gathered on the front lawn of the newly rechristened Deputy Kurt B. Wyman Law Enforcement Building.
Adyson "is full of character, and she is a happy, happy baby," Lauren said with a smile. Her 2-year-old son Alexander — or ‘Zander — sat in his mother’s lap for most of the ceremony. Lauren said her children both look like their father Kurt, but more so than appearance, she sees her late husband’s characteristics in them.
"That’s where I see little glimpses of him," said Lauren, a widow and single mother at age 24. "My son is very stubborn, and so was Kurt. And I see his sense of humor in Ady. They grow up so fast that I want to savor this."
As her children do grow up, Lauren and the rest of the Wyman family will have to tell them about the memory and the legacy of their father. Both of which will live on, the family said, in the community that Deputy Wyman loved and died to protect.
"He had a love for his family that he demonstrated often. He loved his God, he loved his country and he loved his community," said Brian Wyman, Kurt’s father. "That’s what we need to remember Kurt for."
Deputy Wyman was shot and killed at 2 a.m. June 7, 2011, following a standoff on Knoxboro Road in Augusta. Wyman and his fellow officers had just spent six hours trying to coax gunman Christian M. Patterson to lower his weapon and surrender, after Patterson had been involved in a domestic dispute with his longtime girlfriend.
The Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team fired two less-than-lethal, hard-foam rounds at Patterson at 2 a.m. to try and subdue him. But Patterson retained control of his shotgun and blasted Wyman once in the neck when the young deputy ran into the garage. Patterson was later sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Wyman’s cremains are interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Wyman was a Marine who served overseas.
"Kurt was a good boy. I’m going to miss him," his father said. Brian Wyman said it was more difficult to go to bed last night than it was to wake up this morning. He said he was "thankfully" asleep when 2 a.m. came around. And then this morning, Brian said he woke up and read memories of Kurt that had been posted on the website Facebook.
"It’s encouraging" to see so many people remember Kurt. "It helps," Brian Wyman said. The hopes they had for their family, "the way we all planned it to be written out, has totally changed," he said. "That’s what the world chose to make us go through."
But the family will move on, he said. A birthday party is planned for later today to celebrate the newly 1-year-old Adyson.
The children "are doing good," said Brian, who has been nicknamed ‘Papa’ by his grandchildren. "Ady is growing up. Zander still points out pictures of daddy."
Along with the renaming of the Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Wyman’s memory will also live on in at least two other dedications. A portion of Route 12B from College Street in Clinton to Route 315 in Deansboro will be renamed as the "Deputy Kurt Wyman Memorial Highway". Lauren said she and Kurt purchased their first home along that stretch of highway. Now she lives in New Hartford.
A park on Judd Road not far from the Sheriff’s Office will also be renamed for Wyman, with new soccer fields installed by next year. Soccer was the deputy’s favorite sport.
"Today is a very difficult day. We remember a hero today, a hero father, hero son, hero deputy, hero soldier and a hero friend," said Sheriff Robert M. Maciol. "A person who put his life above others in order to keep peace in the community."
Maciol said the Wyman family has been very helpful in keeping up the spirits of his officers. He said the Wyman family and the law enforcement family have been forever bonded.
"Out of every tragedy you have to get something good out of that," Maciol said. "The strength of the Wyman family certainly has done wonders" to help his deputies "move forward each and every day."