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Former Sheriff’s Deputy and Founder of Modesto’s Do Good Distillery Dies at 38

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MODESTO -- Jim Harrelson was a great guy all around -- that's what his family and friends say. He was kind, helpful and compassionate. He may be gone, but his legacy will live on.

"Do well by doing good." Benjamin Franklin's words -- Harrelson's motto to live by.

"He thought that was such a perfect quote. How different would the world be if we all just did basic good things?" said Jim's wife, Liz Harrelson.

The 38-year-old spent his life doing exactly that -- until his untimely death on Sunday.

Jim Harrelson died from a heart attack. He leaves behind three daughters, a heartbroken wife and a community he did so much for.

"Not just a wife's biased opinion here. He's truly one of the best people I've ever met," Liz Harrelson said.

A 14-year career in law enforcement with the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department, helping the homeless, donating to charities, and ultimately opening Modesto's Do Good Distillery.

Harrelson's impact was felt in big and small ways.

"Out in rougher neighborhoods, he found these scrappy dogs. He thought they deserved a chance. Sure enough, we had one for eight years," Liz Harrelson said.

There's no shortage of stories like this.

"There was an officer killed here, Dennis Wallace. One of my proudest days he said 'We're shutting down. We're going to go help,'" friend Bill Coffey said.

Loved ones say Harrelson was committed to everything he did -- from a successful baseball career to time on the bomb and SWAT teams to creating his own spirits.

"If Jim said he was going to do something, I truly believed in him," Liz Harrelson said.

His last great gesture? Donating his organs.

Family says to honor Harrelson is to live a life of kindness and action just like he did.

"Follow his motto 'do good,'" said Coffey.

The family doesn't have a GoFundMe account set up. They say instead of sending flowers to them, consider making a donation to Community Hospice in Modesto.