Policeman remembered for years of dedication

Howard policeman laid to rest

April 09, 2004|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

Amid the daily responsibilities of police work, Pfc. William E. Vogel and Lt. Roger M. Neubauer, Howard officers and close friends, would often meet at a spot in the western county and watch "one of the prettiest sunsets in the country," Vogel recalled. But over the past few days on his beat, Vogel has watched the sun go down alone without his friend - "and I miss him tremendously," he told a crowd of mourners yesterday.

Dozens of friends and family - and more than 80 members of the Howard County Police Department - gathered at St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Elkridge to remember Neubauer, a 39-year veteran who held the distinction as the longest-serving active-duty officer on the force. Among the mourners was his nephew, Sgt. Christopher Neubauer, who also serves on Howard's police force.

After going on sick leave in November, Neubauer, 60, died Monday of multi-organ failure.

"Roger was truly an officer who had blue running in his veins," County Executive James N. Robey told mourners.

Before yesterday's funeral Mass, dozens of Howard officers and several deputies from the Howard Sheriff's Department stood in formation in the courtyard and saluted as pallbearers carried his casket into the church. A police honor guard, bearing flags and rifles, stood at attention while a long row of marked and unmarked police cruisers lined the street in front of the church.

Neubauer was hailed by Robey, Chief Wayne Livesay and others for his dedication to law enforcement and his love for his family.

Robey, who served as the county's police chief from 1991 to 1998, said Neubauer was one of several officers "who taught me what it meant to be in the Howard County Police Department."

Robey noted an impressive statistic: In Neubauer's first 28 years on the job, he did not take one day of sick leave.

Commitment

Neubauer's commitment did not go unnoticed. He was honored with a county proclamation nearly five years ago, which declared Dec. 6, 1999, as "Roger Neubauer Day."

Neubauer - who was born and raised in Elkridge, one brother said - started with the Police Department in July 1964 as a dispatcher but became an officer soon after.

When he joined the force, the department was a dozen years old and relied on 15 police officers to patrol the county. Today, the department has more than 350 officers.

Livesay said Neubauer had many roles in the department, including work in criminal investigations and human resources, but the chief said he could not recount them all in a career that spanned nearly four decades. Neubauer's last assignment was as a patrol watch commander in the department's Northern District headquarters in Ellicott City.

Livesay said Neubauer had excellent writing skills and worked full time while he obtained a master's degree. And when Livesay started college, Neubauer helped him with his writing.

"The citizens of Howard County are fortunate to have had Roger as one of their protectors," Livesay said.

Vogel told mourners that Neubauer often talked about his love for his family during the sunset meetings.

"He told me how much he loved his wife, how she was the best thing that ever happened" to him, Vogel said.

After Mass, Clifford L. Neubauer, 63, said his brother Roger had "a work ethic that wouldn't quit."

"He was always good for a cup of coffee," Neubauer reminisced outside the church. "He knew how to make a good cup of coffee."

Final salute

On the way to the cemetery, the funeral procession passed the Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department, where eight firefighters stood outside at attention. Officers halted traffic along Washington Boulevard so the procession, including more than 30 police cruisers and motorcycles - with lights flashing - could travel the 3 1/2 miles to the cemetery.

About a dozen police officers, who couldn't attend the funeral because they were on patrol in the area, parked alongside Washington Boulevard and saluted as the caravan drove past.

Neubauer was buried at Meadowridge Memorial Park with full police honors - a wall of police officers ringed the gravesite. As an officer played "Taps," rain began to fall from the gray sky.

At the grave site, Livesay presented Neubauer's wife with a folded American flag, the police department's flag and her husband's hat. A bagpiper closed the ceremony with a rendition of "Amazing Grace."

The Mount Airy resident is survived by his wife, Rhonda; daughter, Meredith; son, Roger; five brothers and two sisters; and 16 nieces and nephews.

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