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Remembering Officer Nolan Fannin

get-attachment (1)When Nolan Fannin left this world unexpectedly Friday morning, he left a huge void in the lives of family, friends and coworkers. The longtime Conroe Police officer and detective was recovering from a routine knee surgery. By all accounts, he appeared to be improving rapidly and was in good spirits, hoping to be back in the action soon.

One of those hardest hit by the news was retired Conroe Detective Roger Bennett, who probably knew Fannin better than almost anyone. They knew each other for 18 years, and were partners who shared an office for 10 of those years. The two were inseparable, also spending off-duty time together. Bennett said their coworkers called them “The Odd Couple,” or sometimes, “Felix and Oscar,” because Bennett was very neat and organized, and Fannin never concerned himself with those sorts of things.

“That was him – a crooked tie, and it might have a hot sauce stain on It,” Bennett said. “I couldn’t have had a better partner.”

Their friendship remained just as close after Bennett retired from CPD last October. Bennett said he will remember his friend as someone who was blunt and straight forward, but who also stood by his side through thick and thin and was always there when he was needed.

“I like to think of him like John Wayne,” Bennett said. “He didn’t suffer fools. If you had his word, it was his word.”

Bennett went to see Fannin in the hospital when he had surgery, and took him meatloaf, which was one of Fannin’s favorites. Fannin’s mother took him to her house upon his release and every time he and Bennett spoke, Fannin was feeling better and stronger. The pair planned to go buffalo hunting later this year. Bennett, an avid hunter, had gone once just because Fannin wanted buffalo meat. They split the meat from that trip, and Fannin decided he wanted to go the next time.

Bennett takes comfort in knowing Fannin died having unyieldingly held fast to his beliefs and convictions. Bennett said Fannin was not known for his political correctness and “if he believed the harder road was right, he took the harder road.”

“I don’t think he’d have any regrets,” Bennett said. “He only tried to the right thing, and I think he’d stand by every decision he made.”

“Even in the face of aggression, he stood his ground. Even if wasn’t popular. He wouldn’t sway if it was right, and he was going to call it right,” he said. “That’s what made me want to be his friend.”

Deputy Chief Russell Reynolds knew Fannin the entire 24 years of his career with the Conroe Police Department and was also a member of the same law enforcement motorcycle club, Los Carnales, Point Blank Chapter. Fannin was a charter member of that chapter and loved to ride. His “road name” in the club was Booboo.

Like Bennett, Reynolds remembers Fannin as “one of a kind,” with a “quirky and unusual sense of humor.”

“He liked to aggravate people,” Reynolds said. “When they’d tell him he had to wear a tie (at work), Nolan would show up in a polka dot bowtie.”

Then, of course, he would return to the crooked necktie.

Reynolds said Fannin took the death of his friend Walter Miller of the Cut and Shoot Police Department very hard, but also did a lot to help Miller’s family afterward. He was always ready to help with whatever was needed when tragedy struck, Reynolds said.

Fannin was not only helpful to people he knew or encountered in the line of duty. He was attending a Christmas luncheon on December 8, 2009 when an elderly woman dining in the same restaurant choked on her food and began “turning colors.” Fannin performed the Heimlich Maneuver and cleared the obstruction. The next spring, Conroe PD presented Fannin with the “Life Saving Award” at their annual banquet.

The Conroe Police Station is not the only building that will seem a little emptier and a little duller without Fannin. He spent a lot of time at Sportsman Guns & Ammo on FM 1314, where he was close friends with owner Derek Allison, as well as others who frequented the business. Fannin, Allison, Bennett, and a few more frequently dined together at a local eatery. Allison said they never missed the meatloaf special. Friday was the first time the group met without Fannin, when they got together to reflect, he said.

Allison’s memories of Fannin will also remain alive and well in his business, because Fannin often went there after work and before he went to an extra job. Fannin especially enjoyed the shop’s couch, which is in the showroom, he said.

“He’d catch up on his naptime,” Allison said. “We were always trying to get a picture of him on that couch.”

Fannin’s last visit was on the Friday before his knee surgery, when he checked in before going to his extra job, as always.

Allison said their friendship and Fannin’s visits to his gun shop began many years ago, and they always had a good relationship. He described Fannin much as Bennett did, saying he was “rough on the outside, but had a good heart.”

Fannin served as a peace officer in Montgomery, San Jacinto and Bastrop Counties. He also served in the United States Army, and worked for the prison system prior to becoming a police officer. He was part of a K-9 Unit, with his partner, a Rottweiler named Baron, before becoming a detective. He was 58.

Nolan Fannin was what almost anyone would call a “character,” but he was also so much more. There could probably be no more eloquent or accurate summary than that made by his longtime partner, Roger Bennett.

“A lot of people probably didn’t understand him,” Bennett said. “He was a book, tattered and worn, and frayed on the edges,” Bennett said. “But once you got inside, there was a great story.”

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