CLEVELAND — In a touching eulogy and letter, Kristen Skernivitz, the wife of slain Cleveland Police Detective James Skernivitz, remembered her husband who was a devoted a father to Matthew, Bayleigh and Peyton, a brother, a son, and a fellow officer to many, during his funeral on Friday.
In a eulogy written by her but read by Brecksville Police Sgt. Mike Bauman, she affectionately remembered her husband as someone who would always crack jokes, and in doing so, gave a nickname to many and was known to many by his nickname “Skern” or “Skerny.”
“You know, the many nicknames he and I had for each other — and those will remain close to our hearts. Above all, Jim is a man no one will ever hold a candle to,” she said in the letter.
Their relationship and love for each other spanned decades, first starting at 17 on a carefree summer day before their senior year.
Kristin was quick to admit it wasn’t love at first sight, but rather one that took a couple of months of strategic conversation on Jim’s part to finally talk her into a date.
“Alas, no sparks flew. But again, Jim's patience and persistence triumphed. And it didn't take many more dates before I recognized I met the man that I'd hoped to marry. Six years after meeting, we stood in front of family and friends to commit our lives to one another,” she wrote in the letter.
Through the ups and downs, Kristin said their union wasn’t without challenges, and for Jim, as she affectionately called him, said he despised dishonesty.
“I don't think one person here today would be speaking truthfully, to claim Jim as a liar. He was a truth-teller. Many times the truth stung. But that sting was his way of saying, I love you.”
Since her husband’s death, Kristen said she has angrily recycled hundreds of questions about her husband’s homicide. While there are no answers yet, she hopes to channel his patience because, in the end, answers will surface.
The memory of the night she found out about her husband's death is one that won’t ever leave her mind, but it’s the support she saw that night that she says will help her and her family heal.
“My healing began the moment I entered the doors at Metro and saw the halls already lined by his CPD brothers and sisters, first responders and hospital staff, knowing they were witnessing the most evil moment each of us hoped never to experience. It wasn't long after I say goodbye to Jim that cars arrived delivering our kids, Jim's mom and brother, my parents, my siblings and my cousins to be with Jim before he was taken to the coroner's office.”
“The remainder of the night was filled with anger, sadness, uncertainty and crushing despair. And it stung. My God, did it sting,” she recalled.
She also recognized that the pain she and her family feel is the same pain the family of Nick Sabo, a fellow officer who ended his life, and Scott Dingess, who died alongside Skernivitz, are feeling.
"Before we fall and prevent heartbreaking loss for another family. If anyone listening or watching today is hurting or grieving or feeling so hopeless that you believe the best solution is to kill yourself, please stop suffering in silence," said.
At last, she asked everyone to honor her husband's life and legacy by telling everyone to "stop the hate. Stop the violence. Just stop."