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John Louis Pickens

John Louis Pickens, 69, departed this life on March 11, 2019 at The Villa Hospice. He was born on September 27, 1949 in Anderson, SC to the late Richard and Mable Pickens. He graduated from New Deal High School in Starr, SC. He was a member of the Generostee Baptist Church and attended Sunday School and Baptist Training Activities.

He received a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Science from Maryville in St Louis, MO and a Master of Arts in Business Management from Webster University. A lifelong law enforcement career included training at the St Louis Police Academy and Federal Bureau of Investigations Academy as well as A host of organizations including time as the President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement (NOBLE). He also served in the air force for 3 years.

He worked in St Louis City and Uplands Park as a police officer where he earned a promotion to Lieutenant. From there he went on a run where he served as the first Black Chief wherever he went. Those stops included time as Chief of Police in Pine Lawn, MO, the University of Missouri St. Louis, and Chief of Police at Northern Illinois University. A man of many accomplishments, it’s arguable that his most prestigious career appointment came after an intense interview process, he was selected to direct the then largest university in the United States as Chief of Police at Arizona State University. He eventually retired from the police force in 2014 and then became Executive Director of Security at ASU where he served until September 17, 2018.

He leaves to mourn four sons, John Pickens (Tamara), Richard Pickens-Stewart (Donelle), Andre’ Alfred (Gail) and Demetris Alfred (Stephanie); one grandson, six granddaughters, eight great grandchildren; one brother who preceded him in death, James Wade, three sisters Nancy, Shirley, and Pearlie; one brother Joe Louis and a host of nieces, nephews and friends.

John will be greatly missed.  He made many friends wherever he went.


  • Mr and Mrs David Latimer Posted March 14, 2019 5:39 PM

    So sorry for your loss
    We’re praying for you all!

  • Carla Wansley Posted March 14, 2019 6:53 PM

    My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  • Mr. And Mrs. Tony M. Robinson, Sr. Posted March 14, 2019 6:53 PM

    Please accept our sincere condolences. Will be praying for the family.

  • Roger and Nancy Van Vlerah Posted March 14, 2019 7:02 PM

    Such a great Chief, man and friend. Nancy and I are so happy that our live paths crossed with you. Thank you for being our friend.

  • Chris Jones Posted March 14, 2019 7:43 PM

    John was a Man that always had a Smile on his Face and his Personality, and Good Nature always brightened my day. My Condolences to his Family.

  • Dave Wickstrom Posted March 15, 2019 1:43 AM

    John was a great mentor and friend to me. I will miss our talks. My thoughts and prayers to family.

  • Barbara Hoskins Posted March 15, 2019 10:32 AM

    My condolences for your loss. I worked for Chief for many years at ASU Police and he was great boss. Kind, understanding but mostly fun to work for him. He will be sincerely missed.

  • Jim Mitchell Posted March 15, 2019 12:15 PM

    John was such a good friend to me and mine here in DeKalb, il. I enjoyed his company and the wardrobe castoffs. I still have the gigantic overcoat from a giant of a man get was. He was truly the gentle giant. I will never forget the times John, not ever.

  • DeKalb County Sheriff Roger A. Scott Posted March 15, 2019 12:24 PM

    John was a role model for law enforcement executives wherever he served. He was my friend , with a great heart .
    He was a “Minister of God for Good” Romans 13:4

  • Rose Miller Posted March 15, 2019 12:47 PM

    My sincere sympathy on the loss of your dear father. I had the pleasure of working with him as his department’s HR representative at NIU during his time there. I cannot tell you how much he was missed by so many when he left…he was a class act who served NIU so well. Rest peacefully Chief.

  • Paula Lofgren Posted March 15, 2019 1:22 PM

    Chief became my friend when we worked together, and we remained close friends ever since. He was a wonderful, giving man with a big heart. I will always be grateful for having him in my life. My deepest and sincere condolences to his beautiful family.

  • DeKalb Police Department Posted March 15, 2019 1:45 PM

    Our deepest sympathies. John was a great leader and friend. He was a pleasure to work with. Our prayers to you all!

  • Darren Bowens Posted March 15, 2019 4:32 PM

    My condolences. Thank you for a life of service.

  • Louissi Cummings & Family/ Eatonville,Florida Posted March 15, 2019 5:51 PM

    I am truly going miss you. As my dear friend. We had fun when you came Florida. RIH my friend John

  • Matt Kiederlen Posted March 16, 2019 6:50 AM

    John was a good friend and mentor. When I became a Chief myself he helped me more than once to understand and negotiate my new role. His laugh was so great! I will miss his presence here and I pray our Father in Heaven holds him in His arms. My love and respect.

  • Bill Feithen Posted March 16, 2019 8:13 AM

    John was a wonderful and kind person who cared about his friends and colleagues. He was respected by those who knew him and always valued his opinion. He was a professional, a role model and mentor whose kindness was reflected in how he carried out his duties in law enforcement. The world was a better place because of John. You will be missed my friend. My heartfelt sympathy to his family.

  • Sharon Stewart Posted March 16, 2019 9:08 AM

    GOD saw “John” getting tired, a cure was not to be. John tried to make everyone well aware, he suffered much in silence, his spirit did not bend. God wrapped his arms around him & whispered come with me. He faced his pain with courage until the very end. And now the day has come to say goodbye, hold you’re head up try not to cry. I’ve graduated from earth with the highest degree, I majored in life & now I’m free. Accept my last certificate with honors & be proud of me. Always remember this was meant to be, you were there for me, now I must travel alone. He tried so hard to stay with us, but his fight was not in vain. God took him to his loving home and freed him from pain.

  • Mike Coghlan Posted March 16, 2019 9:17 AM

    John’s integrity stood out most to me when he was investigating political cases.It was a privilege to work with him and be his friend. After he moved from DeKalb, John continued to send cards and letters purely out of friendship. What a loss. My condolences.

  • Janice M. Perry Posted March 16, 2019 10:35 AM

    He was my Chief, and one of the best supervisor, as well a friend. He valued his employees and ensured them in environment of growth as well as individual support. No matter what it was. He was an intelligent, private and soft spoken man, and believed in achieving your goals. He was committed to making the world a better place. No he was not perfect but he gave his all even to the end. GOD put him here to change & protect lifes. I believe he has done his job, now he can rest. He’s gone but would never be forgotten. I solute “Chief” you are receiving your highest honor.

  • The Chapman’s (Vincent, Camille, Sahara & Soleil) Posted March 18, 2019 8:37 AM

    I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Pickens but feel that I have had the opportunity to experience some of his strength, knowledge & wisdom through my friendship with his son John. Camille & I send our most heartfelt condolences to our “brother” John, the Pickens family, loved ones, and friends.

  • Stefani Plummer Posted March 21, 2019 8:04 AM

    Chief was a great friend and mentor. We lunched at ASU on a regular basis; we went through the Leadership Academy together; he was at our wedding. His smile will be missed. I couldn’t get him to take me to lunch with lights and sirens…he was too “by the book” but I feel a “woop woop” in heaven right about now. Thanks, Chief for always looking out…

  • Kaye Adams Posted March 25, 2019 8:51 AM

    My prayer for you….

    Where there is pain, I pray for peace and mercy.

    To the Pickens Family my deepest condolences. John was a man of many fine qualities , a very sweet and caring person.
    A smile that could bright any dark days , I will forever remember the good times we spent together, rest in peace my special friend.


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