The Rev. Kyle Hammond looked out at the thousands of faces staring back at him — each one inside St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church to seek comfort and answers for a seemingly unexplainable loss. He told them that Eric Joering had been a dedicated and faithful Westerville Police officer.

But they all already knew that.

What they didn’t know, perhaps, was how Joering loved to take his daughters hunting, and how he never missed their softball games, and how much he enjoyed hanging out with them and his wife, Jami, in their family’s boat, even when it was just parked in the driveway.

And the Rev. James Meacham told the crowd, too, about Officer Anthony "Tony" Morelli and of the lifetime of devoted and committed police work that would be his legacy in Westerville.

But Morelli also had another side, of course. He loved his wife, his son, and was looking ever so forward to walking his daughter down the aisle at her upcoming wedding. Vacations were his favorite thing, and he was always the life of the party.

These were the men remembered Friday in stories and anecdotes, not one-dimensional officers but as coaches and volunteers and family men and all-around good guys during a 90-minute joint funeral service to honor them.

Those in attendance included a sea of law-enforcement and first responders from around Ohio and the nation. Gov. John Kasich and his wife, Karen, were also in attendance, having postponed an overseas trip to attend the service in their longtime hometown.

Between them, the men had more than 45 years of service to the Westerville Division of Police. Joering was 39; Morelli had just turned 54.

"They were givers," Police Chief Joe Morbitzer told the crowd. And he called them heroes. "But it wasn't this event and it wasn't this day that made them true American heroes. It was their entire lives."

The "event," of course, was Feb. 10 when, police say, Quentin L. Smith fatally shot the two officers almost immediately after they responded to his Westerville home to investigate a 911 hang-up call. Smith has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder and prosecutors have said they could seek the death penalty.

But Friday wasn’t about Smith. Friday was about honoring those who had given all they could.

If Joering had been there, it was said, he would have sat on the floor at his wife's feet, played with his K-9 partner, Sam, and snuggled with his daughters.

In eulogizing Joering, Hammond said though he was born to serve and be a police officer, Joering knew what his priority was in life.

"When he left work, there was no doubt his girls were his world," said Hammond, pastor of the Joering family’s home congregation, Adventure Church in Lewis Center. "He let the girls do his hair and paint his toenails, but I hear he drew the line at makeup."

Everyone laughed.

As Hammond spoke of her husband, Jami Joering was the picture of a heartbroken and dutiful mother, trying to bravely check her own grief as she comforted her young daughters and stroked their backs.

In eulogizing Morelli, Meacham said that if the former DARE officer had been there, he would have climbed the stairs to the balcony where the children's choir had just sang so beautifully so that he could laugh with them, read to them and entertain the kids with funny stories.

But his stories didn’t have to be funny to bring people joy because the smile on his face was usually enough.

"Smile. Vacation. Party. That was Tony. Go on a trip. Party," said Meacham, the Westerville Division of Police lead chaplain. "He went to Heaven, I know that, and he partied."

The description drew laughs, and lightened the mood of the otherwise somber service.

But Hammond told those assembled to try to not be so sad, to cling to their good memories and not let the darkness win.

"No matter how much evil there is in this world, there still is love," he said. "And now matter how helpless we are, we are not hopeless."

After the inside service wrapped up, the crowd made its way to the church parking lot. The darkened skies had lightened and the rain had stopped. But falling temperatures and a rising wind only meant people huddled closer together to both stay warm and share in their grief.

Those final moments of sobering tribute were just as soul-crushing as expected: the mournful bagpipes, the drum cadence so loud it rumbles your chest, the helicopter flyover where one of the aircraft breaks away, the riderless horse.

As Chief Morbitzer personally presented the folded American flags to the overcome widows, and knelt to clutch one of Joering’s daughters in a tight embrace, even the strong winds and the barking of the many police canines in attendance couldn’t completely drown the sobs.

And then, by late afternoon it all was over. A more than mile-long procession carrying Joering’s casket and Morelli's urn left the church to travel the flag-lined streets of Westerville, carrying the men home.

Holly Zachariah is a reporter with the Columbus Dispatch.