By AMY MILLER

amiller@tnonline.com

Role model, devoted father, hero.

These were only a few of the words used to describe Lt. Dave Midas when I scrolled through my Facebook feed last weekend.

As each friend posted about the 33-year-old Panther Valley alum, who took his own life unexpectedly in a scene that sounded like it had been scripted for a movie, I couldn't help but remember the man I knew through my work here at the TIMES NEWS.

My professional relationship with Dave began in October 2007. I was a newbie reporter, only having worked full-time in the newsroom for a little over a year.

My editor had assigned me to interview Midas for his heroic act of trying to save a woman's cat, which had been overcome by smoke during a house fire in Lansford. The fire happened on Oct. 29.

I still remember nervously dialing the phone as I sat in the parking lot of the Carbon County courthouse annex before the weekly commissioners' meeting. I didn't know this man, who I just found out was only four years older than myself.

As I talked with him, I thought that there was something great in this guy, something different that couldn't be found in everyone. My instincts were right. He was one of a kind.

We chatted and I finished my interview and wrote the story.

But what I didn't realize at the time was that Dave would touch my life over the years through his work with the county.

Shortly after our first encounter, Dave contacted me asking for coverage for the upcoming D.A.R.E. graduation at St. Joseph Regional Academy. He was the instructor.

Since then, Dave called me whenever he was scheduled for D.A.R.E., or anything school related.

It always amazed me how he connected with the students, and I found it funny that even though this man sounded so confident when he spoke to the kids about drug prevention, bullying, and Halloween safety, he always asked me after if his presentation was OK.

My response was always the same. It was perfect because honestly, it was. He had this personality that was infectious. He drew you in when he spoke and I learned a lot about the D.A.R.E. program and the person he was through those presentations.

Two years ago Dave approached me and asked if I would be interested in writing an article on his love of polka music.

At the time, I knew he liked the polkas, because my husband Bob and I would hear Polka Joe Manjack give a shout out to "Officer Dave and his family in Weatherly" pretty much every week.

I agreed and learned just how much Dave loved polkas. It was refreshing to hear that this area's heritage was living on through people like him.

As the years went by, our paths continued to cross, covering D.A.R.E., Red Ribbon Week, county functions and attending community events. Bob and I would see him, Julie, Gunnar and Hodge at the Coal Miners Festival in Lansford and at St. Joseph's Festival in Summit Hill enjoying food, friends and entertainment.

He also assured Bob and I earlier this year after our son Logan was born, that sleep would eventually return. He was right.

Most recently, we emailed about a few events that he was going to be involved in during the last week of October.

The last thing he said was "I appreciate all you do for me with event coverage."

I never had a chance to respond to that last email, and I never thought that would be the last time I would hear from him.

Dave was a man who loved his children, his family and his county.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think we all would have to say goodbye to him so soon.

Over the weekend, this song, from the movie 8 Seconds, kept playing in my head. It is called "Once in a While" by Billy Dean. I felt it was a fitting tribute to a man who touched so many lives in such a short time.

Once in a while someone comes along

That one in a million heart

So pure and so strong.

They can face up to the tears

And somehow still find a smile

That we only get every once in a while.

Once in a while someone has the eyes

That one in a million look,

That never tells lies.

They can get you on your feet

To walk that extra mile

We only see every once in a while.

That's why we call them heroes

That's why we know their names

And once you've heard their stories

You're never quite the same.

That's why we call them heroes

The best thing they ever do

Is to point to the best in us all

And say: "If I can, you can too."

Once in a while, I still hear his voice

That one in a million sound

Like two laughin' boys.

He would hate it if we cried

That never was his style

Oh, we still miss him every once in a

while.

Rest Easy Dave. Your heavy burden, whatever it may have been, has been lifted.

To the Midas family, may you find comfort in this time of extreme sorrow. May you find love in those around you; and may you find the strength to carry on. Dave was an inspiration and will be truly missed.