In 1985, Jeff Patek graduated from Big Foot High School.
After college, Patek worked with the Town of Delavan Police Department until 1994, when he went on to serve 23 years at the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office.
He died of cancer June 23, 2016, but the legacy of his name gained new life last month.
Two years after Patek’s death, the Walworth County Deputy Sheriff’s Association for the first time awarded a Walworth County resident the Jeff Patek Memorial Scholarship.
The winner, Cole Bechman, Elkhorn, applied for and won $1,000 toward his law enforcement degree at Grand Canyon University in Arizona, said sheriff’s Detective Craig Konopski, vice president of the association.
The sheriff’s office July 14 presented the new scholarship along with others.
The Patek scholarship is for Walworth County senior students without negative police contacts (excluding minor traffic tickets) who plan to study law enforcement.
Bechman, who attended Big Foot High School and then Faith Christian School, said in his application he was inspired by his three uncles who are police officers.
“I will be honored to wake up every morning doing what I love and serving my nation and community in any way that I can,” Bechman wrote in his application.
One of his uncles, Jon Bechman, is an investigator with the Racine County Sheriff’s Office.
“Over the past years I have witnessed him taking things more seriously, asking questions and making decisions to give himself a better chance at getting into a law enforcement career,” Jon Bechman wrote.
Konopski said Patek was a “great guy and great supervisor” who always gave help to those who sought it.
Bechman, who Konopski said is attending Army basic training, could not be reached for comment.
The next application will open up in the springtime. Konopski said the association reaches out to Walworth County schools in January and February to begin the process, and counselors will distribute information from there.