Sgt. Mark RENNINGER Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39, a devoted husband and father and distinguished police officer, was taken from this earth far too early on Nov. 29, 2009. He leaves behind his wife, Kim, daughters Letra and Allison, and son Nicholas. Born Aug. 13, 1970 in Bethlehem, Pa., Mark was the second of five siblings. He was an active member of the Bethlehem Boys Club as a youth and participated in football and baseball. At Liberty High School, Mark was a star athlete, a standout for the Hurricanes football team as a strong safety, helping lead them to two conference titles. But he was equally dedicated to his school work, even going beyond the basic requirements to help others. While taking a sociology class in high school, Mark led classmates into a project producing a documentary to help young people better understand what it's like to be elderly. With his classmates, Mark visited senior citizens living in Bethlehem several times a month. "A lot of kids are cocky to older people," Mark was quoted telling The Morning Call of Allentown in 1989. "After sitting and talking to them, you change your way of thinking. Even if this changes three peoples' minds, it's worth it. I spent more time on this than anything. All my study halls are dedicated to this class." Despite having the opportunity of playing football in college, Mark bypassed his love of the gridiron to begin serving others in 1989. Mark enlisted in the U.S. Army and did his basic training at Fort Dix in New Jersey. Shortly after, he went to airborne training at Fort Benning, Ga., and was accepted to the prestigious Army Rangers program and was part of the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning. At Fort Benning he was honored as Soldier of the Quarter and a jump master. Four years later he arrived in Washington State when he was transferred to Fort Lewis and was assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion. Mark was honorably discharged from the Army in 1996 and would later jokingly tell his family that all the camping he did as a Ranger gave him no interest in ever going camping again. It seemed only natural that Mark would go from serving the country in the military to serving the public. He joined the Tukwila Police Department in 1996 and quickly became a leader in the patrol unit. While in Tukwila, Mark was active with the Community Oriented Policing Unit and the Pro-Act Team, and was president of the Tukwila Police Guild. In 2004, Mark moved on to the Lakewood Police Department. Mark worked as a patrol officer and later served in the Neighborhood Patrol Officer Unit before being promoted to Patrol Sergeant in 2008. He was on the path toward becoming a lieutenant with Lakewood PD. Mark's true calling in law enforcement was when he received an assignment as a SWAT officer in 2001. His experience and expertise as a SWAT officer later led to Mark becoming a well-respected SWAT instructor both locally serving on the executive board of the Washington State Training Officers Association, and nationally with the National Training Officers Association. He brought those talents as a SWAT officer to Pierce County after he joined Lakewood Police and became a Team Leader with the multi-jurisdictional Metro SWAT Team in April 2005. As an officer, Mark was awarded the Medal of Merit, The Core Values Award, Distinguished Service Award and the Chief's Commendation. He received the Lifesaving Award with Lakewood PD after stopping while on his way home following a shift, and ran through leaking gas to help pull a driver from a burning vehicle. In 1999 he went to Stockholm, Sweden and participated in the Police and Fire Olympics. But all of his talents for police work were secondary to his home life. He made a point to leave police work at the office and focus on his family when at home - three children and his wife. He married his wife Kim in 2003, not surprisingly while on a trip to a NASCAR race, and three years later welcomed their son Nicholas to the world. Whether it was making a point to be the softball games of his oldest daughter Letra, the school activities of Alli, teaching young Nicholas during his first few years, or simply spending quiet time with his wife, these were Mark's favorite moments. While not coming close to matching the love for his family, Mark's love of football - specifically Penn State and the Philadelphia Eagles - was a runner-up. He followed Big 10 football religiously and always was willing to argue about how the Big 10 was superior to the Pac-10. He was also like every other Philadelphia fan, always willing to write off the Eagles at the slightest step backward but remaining a devoted fan. He also made a point to see as many NASCAR races as he could. It didn't matter if it was the Truck Series, Nationwide Series or the Sprint Cup cars, Mark would watch them make left-turns incessantly. He even dragged his wife along to see a couple of races live. The decorations on the walls of his home office are one of three things: pictures of SWAT officers, or Penn State or NASCAR memorabilia. Along with his wife and three children, Mark is survived by his four brothers, Matthew, Marty, Michael and John; a sister, Melissa; his mother, Nancy; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to be made to the Lakewood Police Independent Guild.
Published in The Seattle Times from Dec. 6 to Dec. 7, 2009 - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/seattletimes/obituary.aspx?pid=136932342#sthash.zaynoNlE.dpuf