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Father of Isaac Pfarr remembers his son's strong interest in police work

Isaac Pfarr father says his son had nighttime seizures in the past

Isaac Pfarr, the son of a Bel Air Police Department sergeant, initially joined the department's youth Explorer post to fulfill his community service requirement for school, but it only took one meeting to spark a strong interest in police work.

"The first meeting, he told me on the way home he loved it," Sgt. Robert Pfarr said. "He wanted to know everything about my job."

Isaac, who had also expressed interest in a military career, wanted to know about all aspects of police work, such as how his father gave testimony during a criminal trial.

"He was very inquisitive," said Pfarr, who has been with the Bel Air Police for 18 years.

Pfarr shared those memories of his son Saturday afternoon at a reception following the funeral and burial service for Isaac, who died on Oct. 16 at age 17.

He embraced friends, relatives and fellow police officers as they expressed their condolences, part of an outpouring of support for the family after the sudden death of the second oldest of Pfarr's three children.

Isaac is survived by his father and his mother, Sarah, older brother Aaron, 18, and younger sister Abigail, 10, plus his grandparents, family friends and his dog, Harley.

A funeral service was held at Schimunek Funeral Home in Bel Air, followed by a burial service at Angel Hill Cemetery in Havre de Grace, where the Pfarrs have family plots, and then a reception in the parish hall at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Emmorton.

The official cause of Isaac's death is still under investigation, but Robert Pfarr believes it was a seizure. He said his son was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2013 and had experienced nighttime seizures in the past.

Pfarr said his son took medication, but he had missed doses for a couple of days before he died. He suspects it was because of Isaac's excitement about his school's Homecoming activities, such as the annual dance and football game.

Isaac attended the Homecoming dance on the night of Saturday, Oct. 15, and his family found him the next morning, Pfarr said.

Pfarr said the support that he and his family have received from Patterson Mill High School, where Isaac was a junior and a football player, as well as the police department and their neighbors in the Bel Air area, has been "overwhelming."

He said the past week has been "touch and go" and "minute to minute," as family members laugh at one moment and cry at the next.

Isaac's death has been hard on his siblings, especially his sister Abigail, Pfarr said.

"It's just going to take some time to find what the new normal is going to be," he said.

Dick Schwanke, of Abingdon, is a family friend and was an was considered like a grandfather to Isaac. His wife, Alma, is a longtime friend of Isaac's mother, and she baby-sat Isaac as an infant. Schwanke also watched Isaac play during home football games.

"It was great to see a big show of support from the school community and the whole public service community," Schwanke said of the attendance at the services for Isaac.

He called the community's support, including a police motorcade escort made up of officers from multiple state and local police agencies, "pretty impressive."

"Even when Harford County grows you realize it's still, at times, a small community," Schwanke, who grew up in the county, said.

Isaac's family are not current members of St. Mary's, but Isaac had been attending meetings of the church's youth group, Youth Awakening, during the past year, according to the Rev. Father Thomas Allen, the church rector.

"You have a 17-year-old kid that is taking faith in God authentically," Allen said after the reception.

He said that interest "has a lot to do with the sacrament of baptism and the sacramental grace that was bestowed upon him when he was baptized by Father Bill Smith."

Smith, the retired rector of St. Mary's and Allen's predecessor, officiated at Isaac's funeral.

"Harford County and its citizens have a tremendous amount of ability to touch one another in deep and profound ways," Allen said of the outpouring of support for the Pfarr family.

This story is updated to reflect a correction, resulting from a editing error, in the date Isaac Pfarr died.

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