Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Michael Renault

Largo Officer Michael Renault was tough man with soft heart

LARGO — Michael Renault was bagging groceries at a Winn-Dixie when his calling clicked.

A thief came into the store and robbed the cash register. Michael, always mischievous, always sneaking out of his window at night, sought adventure and feared nothing.

He also knew right from wrong. At 16, he took off chasing the bad guy.

He had cowboy instincts, raised on a diet of outer space westerns like Star Wars and Star Trek. He collected John Wayne movies and memorabilia.

He loved to fish and play laser tag in the middle of the night with his younger brother, Jason. He was unfailingly loyal, a good man to have on your team.

"He was someone I always looked up to," said Jason Renault, 33. "He was about as much of a big brother as you can ask for. I kind of idolized him in way."

After college, he joined the Largo Police Department, climbing to become a lieutenant. He was tough to crack, a man of deep voice and few words, said his wife, Jennifer Renault, a fellow Largo police officer. Some people were intimidated.

When they first met, "He paid no attention to me," she said. "That was our big joke. But then he really helped me out, showing me what to do. He was just very genuine and always made me feel special."

Lt. Renault received a medal of valor for climbing a fire ladder to get a suicidal man off the roof of a building, she said. Other times, he endured dog bites while trying to catch criminals.

He was an ace at poker, golfing, hunting, playing softball and fantasy football.

He hated to lose.

"Oh, yeah, he was a sore loser," said his wife. "Mike Renault was a sore loser. Everyone will tell you that."

Underneath, there was a soft man who wanted a huge family. He played and caught bugs with his sons, Hunter and Luke. He took them to ball games but curtailed his competitive side so they'd know it was fine to lose.

He yearned for a little girl.

"He wanted the princess," his wife said. "He wanted to be the dad to walk her down the aisle."

Eleven months ago, Hannah Renault was born. Lt. Renault sat and listened to a country song called I Loved Her First. He teared picturing his daughter in a white dress. But three months later, he got staggering news — he had stomach cancer. His family and friends rallied. His fellow officers raised money and shaved their heads in solidarity.

As he ailed, he prayed and wrote in journals. He wanted his children to graduate, to get married, to travel. He wished they'd have fearless adventures and find their callings.

Lt. Renault died Tuesday. He was 37.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8857.


Michael Renault

Born: Oct. 1, 1971.

Died: Feb. 24, 2009.

Survivors: wife, Jennifer, children, Hunter, Luke and Hannah; parents, James and Judy Renault; siblings, Jason Renault, Kristen Pitchford; grandmother, Betty Lynch; seven nieces and nephews.

Services: 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Paul United Methodist Church, 1199 Highland Ave., Largo.

Largo Officer Michael Renault was tough man with soft heart 02/25/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 9:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 7 creepy podcasts to get you in the Halloween spirit


    Halloween is all about scary stories. The holiday itself is based on a compilation of creepy tales from history going back thousands of years.

    Television network AMC recently debuted an immersive new podcast, Deadly Manners.
  2. Police: Before a shot was fired after Spencer's UF speech, men gave Nazi salutes and chanted about Hitler


    Gainesville police have arrested three men they say are responsible for the shooting after Richard Spencer's speech at the University of Florida on Thursday.

    Texas men Tyler Tenbrink, 28; William Henry Fears, 30; and Colton Gene Fears, 28 all face attempted homicide charges for a shooting following Richard Spencer's speech at the University of Florida. (Gainesville police)
  3. Koetter: QB Jameis Winston will start Sunday vs. Bills


    After five days of uncertainty, Jameis Winston will be starting at quarterback on Sunday as the Bucs play at Buffalo, coach Dirk Koetter announced Friday afternoon.

    Bucs QB Jameis Winston, shown against the Patriots two weeks ago, will start Sunday at Buffalo after being sidelined with a shoulder injury last week. Dirk Koetter announced that he was starting after watching him throw at practice Friday.
  4. Florida's 'Turtle God' is ailing. What happens to his remarkable collection of specimens?


    OVIEDO — In a small town about five miles from the University of Central Florida there stands a two-story yellow house built in the 1920s. A modest sign mounted on the wall next to the front door says, "Chelonian Research Institute."

    The main room at the Chelonian Institute in Oviedo Florida. - Peter Pritchard sounds British but he's lived in Florida for five decades, running the Chelonian Institute in Oviedo Florida, which holds the world's largest collection of turtle specimens (some of them bones or shells, some of them live turtles or tortoises). Time magazine has declared him a hero of the planet and other turtle experts say he is to turtles what Dian Fossey was to gorillas. He's been instrumental in helping other species, too, including the Florida panther. He has traveled the world studying turtles.
  5. Photos: Maroon 5's PJ Morton slides into Tampa for an electric set at Crowbar


    While the rest of Tampa was off partying with Bruno Mars at Amalie Arena, a much smaller group of fans were getting down with Maroon 5 at Crowbar.

    PJ Morton performed at Crowbar in Tampa on Oct. 19, 2017.