On the 31st anniversary of their first date, the wife of slain Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus helped lay him to rest Thursday.
Hundreds of people filled the pews at Calvary Chapel Community Church in Westlake Village and listened to heartwarming stories — some laced with irony — of the life Helus shared for nearly three decades with his wife, Karen.
“Their official first date was on this date, today 31 years ago. Nov. 15, 1987. Isn’t that wild?” Pastor Steve Day said during his eulogy.
But the ironic parts of their life as a couple did not stop there.
During the funeral service, Day described the night of Sept. 3, 1988, when Helus proposed to Karen at dinner. Helus slipped a blue box with her engagement ring inside into Karen’s black purse. At some point in the night, she went to the ladies room, opened her purse and found the box. As the story goes, Karen was fearful because she thought the ring was for someone else and was in her purse by mistake, so she rushed back to Helus to show him the box.
“Ron gets down on one knee right there in the restaurant and asks her to marry him. History. They were in the old Charley Brown’s Restaurant, which is now the Borderline. How ironic,” Day said in a somber tone.
Fifty-four-year-old Helus, who served the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department for 29 years, was fatally shot on Nov. 7 when he rushed into the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks after receiving reports of a mass shooting. He has been hailed a hero for rushing into the bar upon hearing reports of the shooting. On his way there, he called Karen.
“He called her to say ‘I love you,’ and that was the last time she ever heard from him,” Day said.
Twelve other people were also killed in the mass shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill. Sheriff Bill Ayub, who also spoke at the funeral , said Helus selflessly confronted what most people would flee.
“He entered the nightclub with no other purpose than to defend the defenseless and save their lives,” Ayub said. “And lives he did save.”
In a letter read aloud at the church, Karen said she finds comfort knowing her husband died doing what he loved so much.
“I’m so proud of you and the person you were. I will miss you and your hugs and our life together. Rest now, sweetie. Save a place up there for me. I will see you again. Love you forever.”
Along with his wife, Helus is also survived by their 24-year-old son, Jordan.