TEMPERANCE — Manuel “Manny” Soto, Jr., a Marine Corps veteran who survived a bomb blast in Vietnam and later, as a Toledo police officer, survived a gunshot wound, died Saturday in ProMedica Toledo Hospital. He was 66.
He retired from the police force in December, 1997, because of health problems and was a long-term kidney patient, his wife, Sara, said. He was named Patrolman of the Year in October, 1997. He told The Blade then that several unsolved cases still nagged at him, though he’d been off work and ill for several weeks.
“He was a good, conscientious detective,” said Hank Koepfer, a retired sergeant and one of Mr. Soto’s supervisors on the afternoon shift in the investigative services bureau. “He just persevered. He just kept on it.”
Mr. Soto’s motive was larger than the case at hand.
“Manuel wanted to make the world better for the children, especially his children,” his wife said. “He wanted to give them a good example.”
The Toledo Police Department over his career honored him with a medal of valor, two meritorious service awards, and a professional service award.
He joined the police department in 1973 and five years later, he and his patrol partner, Philip Peer, were shot as they responded to a near-downtown robbery. Mr. Soto underwent surgery for a chest wound.
Yet he could still laugh about parts of the job, including the shooting, he told The Blade in 1997.
“You don’t make a lot of friends out there, that’s for sure,” Mr. Soto said. “But you’re paid to do your job. You do your best.”
He was born March 4, 1947, in Laredo, Texas, to Carmen and Manuel Soto. His parents were migrant workers and in the early 1950s they settled in Erie, Mich., where he attended St. Joseph School.
He played on a baseball team sponsored by the Michigan State Police, and the troopers so impressed him — he even got to ride in their patrol cars — that he started to think of police work as what he would do when he grew up.
He left Mason High School to join the Marines and was sent to Vietnam. He became a corporal. Mrs. Soto knows he was wounded in combat — a bomb exploded near his face — and was awarded a Purple Heart. Otherwise, when it came to the war, “that’s one area he never spoke about,” his wife said.
Surviving are his wife, Sara Soto, whom he married May 10, 1969; sons, Anthony, John, Manuel, and Armando Soto; sister, Armandina Gardull, and 12 grandchildren.
Services will begin at 11 a.m. today in St. Joseph Church on Locust Street in North Toledo, where he was a member. Arrangements are by the Michael W. Pawlak Funeral Home, Temperance.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: email@example.com or 419-724-6182.