A mournful bagpiper and nearly 100 law enforcement officers attended the last roll call for Holland Police Chief Doug Kaiser, who was eulogized yesterday as a person willing to help others through tough times.
Chief Kaiser's funeral was held in the auditorium of Springfield High School, from which the chief graduated in 1978.
"I don't ever remember a time [as a priest] when we had to move a funeral from a church," said the Rev. Thomas Wehinger, who officiated at the 50-minute service attended by 1,000 people.
Police officers, sheriff's deputies, firefighters, paramedics, state troopers, and a game warden sat on the stage overlooking the coffin below. Members of the Toledo police honor guard flanked the flag-draped casket.
"We are brought here together by a common bond, of a tragic death," said Father Wehinger, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church.
The chief took his own life July 28 in Sidney, Ohio. No reason has been made public.
In his eulogy, Father Wehinger tried to grapple with the issue of the suicide of someone who was particularly well-liked. He said a person who takes his own life may be doing so "out of troubled love" over the perception that he's become a burden.
Father Wehinger called the chief "a kind person" who was willing to offer "a heavy commitment of time" to others. The priest recalled his own recovery from cancer, when Chief Kaiser showed up at his door with a grill and a steak.
"He touched a lot of lives in a positive way," Father Wehinger said. "God will help us find some good out of a tragic death."
Anselmo Marquez, Chief Kaiser's brother-in-law, recalled the chief's love of all things Disney, with a collection of Disney movies.
The chief is survived by his wife, Erin, whom he met while working at Toledo Express Airport, and four sons.
Holland police Officer Rick Neeley recalled a love-hate relationship with a man he considered a friend more than a boss.
He said Chief Kaiser, 45, was humble about his position and told people he was never comfortable being called chief of police. "He thought of himself as a glorified patrol officer," Officer Neeley told the hushed auditorium.
Chief Kaiser began his career in the police department in 1982 by working part time, while working full time for the village's street department. He was given full-time status in 1985 and made chief in 1989.
Officer Neeley said that while he and Chief Kaiser would disagree to the point of not speaking to one another, he regrets "all of the time wasted being angry at him."
At the end of the service, a lone bagpiper in a kilt walked to the front of the auditorium to pipe "Amazing Grace."
The six-member Toledo police honor guard, along with the officers on stage, left to pay their respects. Their badges were covered with black tape. The audience then walked single file past the casket before leaving.
Chief Kaiser's body was placed on the back of the village's antique Ford fire truck, which was draped in black bunting.
The cortege, led by the fire truck and scores of police vehicles, left the school and wound its way through south Holland, passing city hall and the police station. The chief's gray police cruiser sat in front, covered with messages written in memoriam.
Along a section of Airport Highway, which was closed from Holloway Road to Albon Road for the nearly hour-long procession, a pair of fire trucks from Holland and Springfield Township extended their aerial ladders over the road, connected by an American flag.
Business signs greeted mourners with "Chief Kaiser you will be missed."
On the east end of the Springfield Township Cemetery, officers, along with fire and EMT personnel, stood at attention while the Toledo police helicopter flew overhead.
Chief Kaiser's send-off included a police rifle squad firing three volleys, followed by a bugler sounding "Taps."
Five white doves were released before the bagpiper played a final time.
At the end, a final roll call squawked over Lucas County sheriff's deputies' radios. Law enforcement officers elsewhere in the county were alerted to momentarily pull off the side of the road and activate their emergency lights.
"Chief Douglas A. Kaiser has been called home," the unseen dispatcher announced.
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