Longtime Butler County deputy, Hamilton police officer dies at age 57

When David Fant began his law enforcement career 34 years ago in Butler County, his newlywed wife, Cindy, would sit at home, nervously listening to the police scanner.

Sometimes, after hearing a potentially dangerous call, she’d call her husband to see if he was safe.

After several late-night calls, Fant told his wife the scanner was “a really bad idea” and he took it away.

“Police work was his entire life…,” Cindy Fant said.

On those “scary nights,” she remembered what her husband often told her: “If I die in the line of duty, it’s OK because that’s the way it was meant to be.”

On Saturday, Fant, 57, a former Hamilton police officer and Butler County Sheriff’s Deputy, died after an eight-year battle with brain cancer. He retired from the sheriff’s office in 2010. He had lost his vision and use of his extremities, and had been bedridden for months, his wife said.

He certainly got his passion for police work honestly. His father, Claude, was a Hamilton police officer and firefighter.

“He wanted to be like his dad,” his wife said.

Even after retiring because of the cancer, Fant worked one year with the sheriff’s office maintenance department, said Butler County Sheriff’s Maj. Mike Craft.

“He wanted to be a part of this place, just be a part of the organization,” Craft said.

Fant was best known for his knowledge of Hamilton criminals, Craft said. Hamilton officers frequently called Fant when they had trouble identifying a potential criminal from surveillance footage, Craft said.

“He’d say, ‘That’s so and so, he lives so and so and you can find him so and so,’” Craft said. “He just had a knack for getting to the investigative side. He was always digging, always investigating. The guy was amazing.”

Then Craft added: “He ate, slept and drank law enforcement.”

Fant, a 1979 Taft High School graduate, attended the Columbus State Highway Patrol Police Academy, becoming a member of the Hamilton Police Department from 1984-1997.

In 1997, he transferred to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office becoming a deputy and he also served as a school resource officer for the Madison School District. He was known as “Deputy Dave.”

“He loved those kids,” his wife said. “He took them under his wing and talked about life situations.”

She said Fant, whom she called the “best” husband, father and grandfather, always saw the positive in people and routinely helped anyone needing assistance.

She remembers the day they met in Connections, an Oxford bar. When he asked for Cindy’s phone number, she told him that if he wanted it bad enough, he’d look it up in a phone book.

He called the next day and they were engaged for four months before being married for 33 years. She was asked what she will miss the most about her husband.

“That’s a tough one,” she said.

Then she talked about his humor and kindness.

Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, at Webster Funeral Home, 3080 Homeward Way at Ohio 4, Fairfield. A Fraternal Order of Police Service will take place at 7 p.m. followed by the funeral ceremony with Pastor Nathan Heady officiating.

A celebration of life will take place from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday at the FOP Lodge, 180 Joe Nuxhall Way, Hamilton.

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