The Grayson County Sheriff’s Office gathered together Friday afternoon to thank those who donated materials, funds and labor used to build the recently-completed Deputy Chad Key Memorial Garden.

The garden, which sits on the west side of the Grayson County Jail, includes a young tree, inlaid stepping stones, two benches and a metal, star-shaped monument bearing the former GCSO deputy’s last name and the date of his final watch.

“I am so honored that me and everyone has a place to come where they can reflect on Chad and anyone in law enforcement who has been lost,” Chad Key’s widow April Key said of the garden.

Chad Key graduated form the North Texas Regional Police Academy in 2012 and worked as both a corrections officer at the Grayson County Jail and as a patrol deputy. On the night of April 20, 2013, he was dispatched to the intersection of U.S. Highway 82 and Bethany Road to assist with traffic management as the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers engaged in a vehicle pursuit traveling through the area.

Chad Key had brought multiple vehicles to a stop, but a drunk driver, unrelated to the pursuit, entered the intersection at high speed and struck the deputy. Paramedics transported the deputy to Texoma Medical Center where he died from his injuries a short time later. Chad Key was 45 years old and is survived by his wife and their three sons. His body was buried at the Burleson Cemetery in Luella.

“He loved everyone,” April Key said of her late husband. “He’d give you the shirt off his back and that’s what I want everyone to remember him for. He loved his job, he loved his family.”

Grayson County Sheriff Tom Watt said the memorial garden was a collaborative effort and the donors — Douglass Distributing, Graham International, Sherman Machine Shop, Liberty Landscaping and Good Earth Soil — took on all the costs and labor for the project. Watt said he was not at all surprised by their generosity.

“Not a bit,” Watt said. “This is Grayson County and that’s what people do.”

With the five-year anniversary of her husband’s death nearing, April Key said she felt the garden was a great way to honor his legacy and she planned to spend time there with her family. April Key added that she hoped her three sons would see the memorial as a testament to how much the community respected their father and his sacrifice.

“I hope they take away from it that he was a great man and that they’re all three coming up the same way as their dad,” April Key said. “And even though he’s not here with us physically, he’s still always here with us — the community sees that and he’s not really ever far away.”