Donald L. Palenske, a 26-year Toledo police patrolman and an Army veteran, died Wednesday at Hospice of Northwest Ohio Toledo Center.
Mr. Palenske, 80, had been in hospice six days before dying from a cancer that had spread from his bladder, said his son, Tom Palenske.
Mr. Palenske was a member of the city's 13th police class. He joined the force in 1953 and retired in 1979, his son said.
His first assignment, like almost all rookie police officers at the time, was to walk a beat downtown, Tom Palenske said. He later transferred to a patrol car on the midnight shift, working in traffic enforcement. When he retired, he had worked in the police department's dispatch center.
"He always talked about when he went on patrol, there were two other officers, 'gun' and 'shotgun,' who would answer calls before he got there," Tom Palenske said, noting that the two officers' nicknames derived from their propensity to hold their weapons at the ready when exiting their patrol cars.
Mr. Palenske was born on April 28, 1929, to Louis and Florence Palenske. Louis Palenske had served on the fire department for 37 years.
Donald Palenske graduated from Libbey High School and served in the Army, stationed in Panama for 18 months during the Korean War.
Tom Palenske said his father helped coach his softball team and took the family on vacations to Wisconsin Dells.
After he retired, Mr. Palenske became active with the Masons, which his son also joined. He was a 30-year-member of Triad-Barton Smith Masonic Lodge No. 613.
"He really didn't do anything after he retired," his son said.
"He stayed home and worked around the house on his 'honey-do' list" for his wife, Thea. She died in 2008.
Mr. Palenske was a past commander of the Toledo Police American Legion Post 512 and he held memberships in the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association and the Toledo Police Retiree Association.
He is survived by daughter Linda Palenske; son Tom Palenske; two grandchildren; brothers Bob Palenske, Carlton Palenske, and Milton Palenske and a sister, Joann McBride.
His funeral is at 11 a.m. today at W.K. Sujkowski Funeral Home, 3838 Airport Hwy.
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