A lasagna feed and auction to benefit the family of former Chewelah Police Department officer Tom Elwess has been planned for this Saturday, Dec. 15, 4-7 p.m. at the American Legion hall. Dinner cost is $10 per plate. The funds raised will be used to help the family with costs associated with Tom’s illness and care. Everyone is encouraged to come out and support Tom, his wife Cindy, and their family.
Currently, Tom is at Hospice House of Spokane, located at 367 E. 7th Ave. in Spokane. The facility is open for visitors and the family encourages all who wish to see him, to do so soon.
Prior to 2002, Tom had surgery on his back and later returned to work until 2003 when he was put on administrative leave from the police department due to physical difficulties. A cancerous tumor was discovered on Tom’s spine in 2004. The tumor was unable to be removed, so Tom started radiation to shrink the tumor. Unable to return to work, Tom officially left the police department in March of 2004. A steady decline in Tom’s physical and mental ability in recent years has led doctors to diagnose him with dementia of an unknown origin.
Tom and Cindy moved their family from Olympia to Kettle Falls in the early 1980’s to be closer to Tom’s job at Alcoa, where he worked for 8 years. They moved to Chewelah in the late 1980’s.
Tom’s desire to protect and serve prompted him to become a volunteer reserve officer for Chewelah before he enrolled in the police academy. After his graduation from the academy in 1990, Tom joined the Chewelah Police Department as a full-time officer. He became a Certified Dog Trainer and Handler. He initiated the grants and encouraged local businesses to help fund a canine narcotics department and became the first Canine Narcotics Officer of Chewelah. Tom also served as an EMT from 1995 until 2003.
In addition to his service as a canine narcotics officer, Tom was also part of educating students in outlying areas on the dangers of drug use, he was part of the volunteer Fire Brigade of Northwest Alloys in Addy, he conducted safety awareness meetings at the long term care unit in Chewelah, he was extremely involved in the City of Chewelah as he attended the city council meetings on a regular basis and once ran for mayor. Tom has always been an integral part of the Community of Chewelah. So many people have been touched by Tom’s outgoing personality and kindness. From a police “Ride-Along” with Tom, to him establishing the canine narcotics department, to his never-ending conversations he could have at a drop of a hat, Tom has been there for his community.
Tom and his wife, Cindy, have been married for over 35 years and have been part of the Chewelah Community for over 22 years. They have four children: Shane, Shawn, Sheena and Shelly; two daughters-in-law: Natalie and Karlie; and three grandchildren: Gabriella, Gavin and Crew.
An account has been established at Bank of America where donations can be made to the family. Donations made to the Elwess Benevolent Fund should be made out to Cindy Elwess.