Ronald L. Orlowski, a tool-and-die setter by trade who was a longtime member of the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office Auxiliary, died Friday in his West Toledo home. He was 56.
He learned in May, 2013, that he had esophageal cancer. He retired from Acme Specialty, where he’d worked for 36 years. He continued in some projects of the sheriff's auxiliary, “when he was feeling good and the chemo effects weren't getting to him,” his wife, Barbara, said.
“He was optimistic that he was going to beat it, and he was very spiritual. He knew even if he didn't he would be OK.”
Mr. Orlowski had become a captain — a command officer — in the auxiliary, which he joined more than 35 years ago.
“He came in at the bottom and worked his way through the ranks,” said Larry Voltz, who founded the auxiliary in 1974 as a support to the sheriff’s office.
“His leadership. That's what got me,” Mr. Voltz, a major, said.
“Direct. No nonsense. He was very good that way.”
As an auxiliary deputy, a largely volunteer position, he provided traffic control and security at special events, such as fireworks, parades, and charity events, and at the Lucas County Fair.
He coordinated communications among law enforcement and fire departments during emergencies.
“He put in hundreds of hours a year,” his wife said. “He loved the auxiliary and what it stood for.
“Back in the olden days, they would take their own cars out in the county and patrol and report what they saw.”
Mr. Orlowski received a certificate of appreciation in 1981 at the Toledo-Lucas County Safety Council’s Hero Awards for aiding in a rescue attempt after an airplane crashed in the Maumee River.
“He had a heart to help people,” his wife said. “If he saw somebody broke down or in trouble by the side of the road, he [would] stop to help.”
As a 16-year-old, he was a member of the Police Explorers post in Ottawa Hills. He later received certification from the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy. He was a police officer in Metamora, Ohio, for several years and for about 20 years was a Washington Township police officer in Lucas County.
He was born June 2, 1957, to Dorothy and Clemens Orlowski. He was a 1975 graduate of Rogers High School, where he was drum major of the marching band, and attended the University of Toledo.
His full-time work was at Acme Speciality Manufacturing Co., where he was a tool-and-die setter. He was a member of UAW Local 12 and a union steward.
“People liked him and thought he stood for what he believed in,” his wife said.
“He wanted to help make things better.”
He reserved unscheduled time for family. He and his wife honeymooned at Disney World, and the family vacationed there every few years since the 1990s.
They plan to keep the reservations made for May “in memory and honor of him,” his wife said.
Surviving are his wife, Barbara Orlowski, whom he married Aug. 25, 1979; daughter, Jessica Scott; son, Nicholas Orlowski; sister, Ann Salow, and two grandchildren.
Visitation will be 2-8 p.m. today in the Sujkowski Funeral Home.
Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Monday in Crossroads Community Church, Ottawa Lake, Mich., where he was a member.
The family suggests tributes to ProMedica Hospice.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.