Richard G. Dittman, Sr., a 31-year Toledo police officer who had been the department’s oldest living retiree, died Friday at the Spring Meadows Extended Care Facility in Holland. He was 96.
Richard G. Dittman, Jr., one of two sons, said he did not know the exact cause of his father’s death but said the elder Mr. Dittman had suffered from congestive heart failure and had taken particularly ill about two weeks before his passing.
Mr. Dittman worked primarily in traffic patrol and investigation during his Toledo Police career, the son said, including motorcycle patrol, school crossings, and working the early speed radar that employed a large black box on the back of a patrol car. A second patrol officer stopped speeders.
“He loved his job. He was very proud of what he did ... making the city safe,” the younger Mr. Dittman said, describing his father as lenient with drivers unless they were 10 mph or more over the speed limit.
In those days, he noted, speed patrols had to put up temporary warning signs alerting motorists to the use of radar ahead.
While traffic may have accounted for most of his work, Mr. Dittman received a departmental commendation, along with two fellow officers, for their 1973 apprehension of a robber who had just shot two employees of a Toledo hardware store, one of them fatally. John Auld, who had escaped from a Michigan prison and kidnapped a truck driver to return to Toledo, was convicted of murder in that case.
Mr. Dittman also was proud to have served during World War II in the Army Air Corps, which sent him to the South Pacific, although he did not speak much of his military service, the son said.
After the war, he worked briefly at Toledo Tool & Die before hiring on with the police department. He and Donna Dittman, his wife of 51 years who died during the early 1990s, made their home in South Toledo, where they were long-time members of Zion United Methodist Church after its founding.
Mr. Dittman lived in the neighborhood for more than half a century.
The younger Mr. Dittman said that while his parents “weren’t rich by any means,” they made sure he and his brother got good educations and saw as much of the United States as they could through family camping trips across the country.
“We made a point to visit a lot of the scenery around the United States,” including many national parks, the son said.
After Mr. Dittman’s retirement, he and his wife went on several cruises that included Alaska and Hawaii, completing their collection of the entire 50 states after they had camped in all of the lower 48. He also enjoyed playing board games and cards with his great-grandchildren.
Mr. Dittman enjoyed woodworking, making lamps, small display shelves for collectibles, and crucifixes for new parishioners at Zion United Methodist, the son said.
“He had a very good and long retirement,” Richard Dittman, Jr., said.
Besides his wife, Mr. Dittman was preceded in death by two brothers and a sister. His survivors include his brother, Bill Dittman; sons Don and Richard Dittman, Jr.; five grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
The family will receive visitors from 2 to 8 p.m. Monday in the Walter Funeral Home, 4653 Glendale Ave. Funeral services will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the mortuary.
The family suggests memorial tributes to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio or Sunshine Children’s Home.