Thomas C. Szymanski, a Toledo police officer for more than 30 years, died of cancer Thursday at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center. He was 68.
Mr. Szymanski, who joined the department on Nov. 1, 1959, wanted to help people, his son Gregory Szymanski said.
"It was either that or a fireman, and the police took him first," he said.
Mr. Szymanski was promoted to sergeant on July 23, 1976, and was assigned to the juvenile missing persons unit.
"He was very good at it," said Shirley Green, who worked with him for seven years. "I think he enjoyed the aspect of helping people and basically just doing a good job."
She said his fellow officers looked up to him, and he was happy to help them.
"He was always well-versed in policy and procedure, and people would turn to him for advice," she said.
When Ms. Green joined the juvenile detective bureau as a lieutenant, Mr. Szymanski had been there for some time.
"Tom made me welcome, showed me the ropes, just gave me a lot of guidance in how to handle the new assignment," Ms. Green said.
He retired in 1993.
Mr. Szymanski worked security for high school football and basketball games and at the former Lion department store, now Dillard's, retiring in 2003 after 40 years.
Mr. Szymanski was born Dec. 16, 1935, in Toledo to Joseph and Helen Szymanski. He graduated from Libbey High School, where he played football, in 1955.
He became a football fan of the University of Notre Dame when his older brother, Richard, who later played for the Baltimore Colts, played for the team.
"Tom was a big fan and went to almost every home game," his brother said. "He took his children and grandchildren, the girls and the boys."
Mr. Szymanski was a commissioner and coach for the Longfellow Lightweight Football Team and an avid golfer. He was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Toledo Police Retiree Association.
Surviving are his wife of 46 years, Christine; sons, Gregory, Jeffery, and Gary Szymanski; daughter, Tammy Szymanski; brother, Richard Szymanski, and eight grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. today in St. Agnes Church, following a salute by the Toledo police honor guard at 9:15 a.m. in the Sujkowski Funeral Home on Alexis Road.
The family suggests tributes to St. Agnes Catholic Church or St. Anthony Catholic Church.