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Published: Thursday, 8/22/2013

Robert Chromik, Sr. [1948-2013]; Detective was ‘voice for the victim’

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Chromik Chromik
HANDOUT NOT BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

Robert Chromik, Sr., who made security his professional duty, for the Lucas County sheriff's office, a local grocery chain, and the Department of Homeland Security, died Tuesday in his Springfield Township home. He was 65.

Mr. Chromik learned in early 2012 that he had pancreatic cancer. He had colon cancer about eight years ago, and his annual checkup after the fifth year showed no cancer, his wife, Bonnie, said.

His bucket list did not include a vacation or a trip. He stayed close to home, and the items on his list — a new roof and a coat of paint for the house among them — 6 meant contractors paid visits to the Chromiks’.

“He was going through chemo and put the best face forward and was very practical,” his wife said. “He said, ‘There are things I need to have done so I know you will be OK.’ He did not put himself, in his position, first. He was looking out for me and the kids and his mother.”

Mr. Chromik retired about five years ago from the federal Transportation Security Administration, part of the homeland security department. He had been screening supervisor at Toledo Express Airport. He oversaw efforts to keep passengers from bringing aboard forbidden items, from nail clippers to crow bars or worse. He also oversaw the installation and use of a high-efficiency bomb scanner, which allowed Toledo Express to screen all baggage.

He was a Navy veteran when the sheriff's office hired him in 1969. Training as a peace officer followed a stint as a corrections officer, and he was assigned road duty as a deputy. He was shot at and shot. He was stabbed and, during a chase, swerved his patrol vehicle in a way that kept the car he was chasing from colliding with oncoming traffic. Some lawyers took to calling him “Captain America,” and the department commended him for his diligence.

“He led a very colorful life,” his wife said. “He truly did love it. He was always out there.”

He later was assigned to the detective bureau. He was named a law enforcement officer of the year for 1976 by the Baker-Stengel American Legion Post for his investigative work, which included solving five homicides. Years afterward, he continued to write letters to the Ohio Parole Board so that offenders remained in prison.

“He never forgot a case, and I think at some point he took things personally,” said his son, Robert Chromik, Jr., who is a lieutenant in the sheriff's office. “He became a voice for the victim.”

He was grazed by a bullet as he tried to stop a robbery and decided, for his family, to leave law enforcement. He was hired by Seaway Food Town, the local supermarket chain, to investigate theft — mostly of employees stealing from the company.

He was born April 14, 1948, to Cecelia and Steve Chromik. He was a 1967 graduate of Woodward High School.

He was a longtime boater and was a former chairman of Bay View Yacht Club.

Surviving are his wife, Bonnie Warchol Chromik, whom he married May 14, 1973; son, Robert Chromik, Jr.; daughter, Carolyn Chromik Sellers; mother, Cecelia Chromik, and brothers, Steve, Thomas, and James Chromik.

Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Sujkowski Funeral Home of Rossford, where family and friends will gather starting at 10 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to the Retired Police K9 Assistance Fund in Holland.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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