LATHAM, N.Y. – New York State Trooper David Cunniff was a very active member at his church, Grace Fellowship in Latham, and many who knew him remembered what a great man he was.
"We're really going to miss Dave," Grace Fellowship communications director Jeffrey Stasko said. "We loved his smile, we loved being around him, we loved the way that we could see that he loved his family. We're going to miss him a lot."
The Grace Fellowship sanctuary was mainly empty Tuesday. But for the people there, their hearts were full of grief after the loss of a friend.
"It is a very tragic time, it is a very sad time," said Mike North, a friend of Cunniff.
As the creative arts director at the church, North worked with Cunniff for years. Cunniff played an important role in the church's worship band.
"Every time you saw him he had a smile on his face," North said. "He was super energetic, and he was a phenomenal musician."
North said Cunniff loved to perform on stage and always looked to make others laugh.
"He's generous with his time, generous with a joke, with a laugh," Stasko said. "Dave was somebody who lived life to the fullest. I remember when the first time I met him was at a staff Christmas party."
He said Cunniff was instantly a likeable, loving, and caring man.
"He was out on the dance floor tearing it up, like nobody's business, and I was like 'who is this guy?'"
He was a guy who would always go the extra mile. Whether at work, at church or at home, he was an example for many to follow.
"With the things that Dave has been through in his life," said Stasko, "to have the attitude that he's had, to keep his chin up like he has, to work as hard as he's worked, to be the encouragement that he's been, to everyone that's around him, he has just been a terrific example."
"We know that he is in a better place. We know that he is in the right place now," said North.
Cunniff died Tuesday at 35-years-old after his patrol car was hit by a tractor trailer on the Thruway. He leaves behind a wife and two young children.
Cunniff had been a member at Grace Fellowship since the late 1990s. The church said it will do anything it can to be there for the family during this tough time.
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