Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Ex-Perrysburg chief survived fierce battle



Toledo Blade file photo Enlarge

Cyril Morris "Morrie" Descamps, a 20-year Perrysburg police chief who was one of the few Marines to survive the Chosin Reservoir Battle during the Korean War, died Friday in Blanchard Valley Hospital in Findlay.

He was 81. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997, his daughter Robin Failor said.

When Mr. Descamps joined the Perrysburg Police Department as a swing-shift patrolman in 1952, Perrysburg was still a village and had a four-man police department in a small office on Second Street.

Thirty years later, during his time as chief, he had 4 sergeants, 10 patrolmen, 3 full-time and 2 part-time dispatchers, a secretary, and a meter maid under him, according to a Blade article from 1982.

The department expanded further before he retired in 1986, said Joe Brainard, who worked with Mr. Descamps on the force and in the courts and fished and hunted with him.

"He was the type of chief who was smart enough to get good people under him," Mr. Brainard said.

Mr. Descamps was assistant chief for 10 years before he was named chief in 1966.

He was born in Maumee the year the stock market crashed and was the second of three sons of Edward and Yvonne Descamps.

His parents, who had immigrated from Belgium, moved to Perrysburg when he was young. His father was a carpenter, building houses, and during the Great Depression they lived in a tent and later shared a house with another family. As a boy he picked up coal along the railroad.

He was a Golden Gloves boxer and played football for Perrysburg High School before leaving school halfway through his senior year to join the Marines. During his four years in the military he continued to box and got his GED.

He was at the Chosin Reservoir battle that killed so many Marines during the Korean War. Without the gear for the 30 to 40-below-zero cold, men froze to death as 15,000 Americans were surrounded by 120,000 Chinese.

After his service, he returned to the area and drove for Brink's security for a few years.

Throughout much of his career with the police department, he moonlighted as an area roofer.

He bowled in a league, sometimes two leagues at a time, for decades, often at Rossford Bowling Lanes.

He liked to hunt ducks, pheasants, and deer and work outside. In retirement, he had a lawn-mowing job.

He typically devoted much of his vacation time to fishing, his main hobby. During walleye season he fished the Maumee River at least once a day.

Salmon and bass were favorites too. Many photos of him include a fishing rod and a catch. "I've never seen so many fish," his daughter Robin said after sorting through pictures to display at his services.

Mr. Descamps lived in Findlay in recent years.

Surviving are his son, Craig, daughters Robin Failor and Cheryl Descamps, brother, Edward, five grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.

Visitation is from 2-9 p.m. tomorrow in Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg, and for an hour before the 11 a.m. funeral Wednesday in Zoar Lutheran Church, Perrysburg. The family suggests tributes to Cancer Patient Services in Findlay.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

or 419-724-6050.

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