Retired Seattle Police Officers Association

Last Ring

Take a moment to remember our friends and associates who have passed.

Bob Baumgartner #3263, retired Seattle Police Detective passed away on July 9, 2016. He was 78 years of age upon passing.

Bob was born and raised in one of Chicago’s working class neighborhoods. He graduated from Edward Tilden Technical High School in 1955. He became a journeyman butcher over the next three years.

In the summer of 1958 he joined the Regular Army, serving four years with the 101st Airborne. While on a 30 day leave in 1959, he returned home. He saw a young woman that piqued his interest working in a local diner. So he asked a neighborhood friend, “Who was she?” and gave her description. His friend misidentified the waitress, saying it was Mary. Bob returned to the restaurant and asked for Mary – not the same waitress. But Bob liked her even better and married Mary in 1959. Who says misidentifications don’t work out for the better?

When his enlistment was up, Bob and Mary returned to Chicago. To supplement the family income, Bob was meat cutting again, he joined the Coast Guard Reserves. The family was starting to grow and needed even more income. So in 1963 Bob joined the Chicago Police Department. He worked in some of the worst neighborhoods, and he was assigned to security at the riotous 1968 Democratic Nomination Convention. This last assignment convinced Bob to seek employment elsewhere.

He applied to the Seattle Police Department in early 1969.

Bob was hired on the Department in November. He worked Patrol for six months before attending Academy Class #63 (a mixed class of SPD and King County Sheriffs.) The class started in the PSB, and then moved to Georgetown for a week while the training rooms at Providence Heights in Issaquah were being prepared. During the 3rd week of training, the class moved to Issaquah. During this time Bob was elected Class President. The class Tac Officers were Rudy Sutlovich #2544 for the first half, and Ken Crow #2426 for the second six weeks. This was the first class to have a six month training cycle, six weeks of class, the next twelve weeks during the summer riots on the streets, and then back to the class room for the final six weeks.
During the twelve week summer class break, Dave Malinowski #2400 worked with Bob in the Central Precinct. He had more police experience than Dave, so they worked as partners instead of student and trainer.

After the Academy, Bob and classmate John Guich #3267 were assigned to 3rd Watch West Central. So they teamed up for five years. They eventually were assigned to the Pike Street car district. One night they got a disturbance call at the Kansas City Steak House regarding a man with a machete. They gaffled up the suspect. Bob was holding both the suspect in one hand and the machete in the other hand. Then a woman comes up demanding that the suspect be released. John told her not to interfere, but she continued to harangue the officers. John placed her under arrest and began handcuffing her when a man rushed up yelling, “unhand my girlfriend” and punches, not John, but Bob who is just holding the original suspect and the machete. All three went to jail. About this time John convinced Bob to switch from the Army Reserves to the Coast Guard Reserves.

After five years of David Sector, Bob transferred to Georgetown to be closer to home in Burien. He worked the Holly Park car on 3rd Watch. Every Christmas Eve and Day, Bob and his partner Walt Manning #3674 would wear Santa hats and drive the drunks to their homes instead of jail. This built a lot of good will in the project. Bob got tired of the Coasties and returned to the Army Reserve.

In the mid-1980s he got the opportunity to be the 3rd Watch clerk. He needed a change so he took the clerk’s job and transferred from the Army to the Navy Reserve. He was called to active duty in 1990 for the first Gulf War. He was posted in San Diego for eight months. He retired from the Reserves in 1997 after 22 years.
Bob became a decentralized South Precinct Burglary Detective in 1994. Every morning his first duty was to grab his pipe and snap-brimmed hat and go out to the precinct pond. He cleaned out the leaves and garbage with a pool net while smoking. The pond had never looked so good before or after Bob’s assignment to the dicks. In 1996, Bob took a young detective, Will Cravens #5285 under his wing. Will is still there.

Bob retired in March of 2000 with over 38 years of combined police service in order to work at the Seattle Center’s Emergency Service Unit for Steve Knechtel #3298, another old Georgetown refugee. Bob worked there until 2014 when his health forced him to retire.

During his last years, Bob continued to fish every opportunity, from opening day to the end of the season. He was a consummate fisherman. He even won the SPAA fishing derby once.

Bob is survived by his wife of almost 57 years, Mary; his daughter Debbie; sons Robert Jr. and Mark; and four grandchildren.