James D.M. Muldowney, a retired police officer who had been assigned to the Baltimore Police Department canine unit for nearly 30 years, died Tuesday of complications from Alzheimer's disease at Nichols Senior Care in Edgewood. The former longtime Overlea resident was 68.
Mr. Muldowney was born and raised in Heckscherville, Pa., and served in the Navy from 1957 to 1961 as an underwater demolitions expert at the naval base in Little Creek, Va.
FOR THE RECORD - An obituary published Saturday for James D.M. Muldowney mischaracterized the relationship of his four children. He is survived by two sons, James Muldowney of Greensboro, N.C., and Robert J. Muldowney of Forest Hill; and two daughters, Rita M. Martinez of Taos, N.M., and Kathleen M. Russell of Churchville. The Sun regrets the error.
After his discharge from the Navy, Mr. Muldowney came to Baltimore and joined the police force. In 1961, he began his career as a patrolman in the Northern District and five years later was assigned to the canine unit.
"I first got to know him at Northern District, and he was one of the finest fellows I've ever known. He was an absolute gentleman and everything you'd want in a police officer," said Nicholas R. Wingrove, who was later a member of the canine unit and retired from the department in 1992. "He always had a smile on his face."
In 1964, Mr. Wingrove helped solve a case that involved three children who suffocated after being locked in an abandoned refrigerator by playmates on Callow Avenue.
"Thereafter, police carried tools to remove the doors. One night Jim and I were working together and we saw a refrigerator sitting on the sidewalk on McCulloh Street. Jim jumped out of the patrol car, grabbed the tools, and ripped off the door," Mr. Wingrove said.
"Suddenly, a man came out of the house and said he just had the brand-new refrigerator delivered to his home. Even though poor Jim had this real embarrassed look on his face, he told the owner it shouldn't have been left out there unattended," Mr. Wingrove said, laughing.
Mr. Muldowney joined the police dog unit in 1966. "This was a natural for him because he was a dog lover," Mr. Wingrove said.
Thomas Tumminello also worked in the canine unit and was Mr. Muldowney's second partner until both retired in 1994.
"He was a good friend, husband and father. You couldn't find a better guy," Mr. Tumminello said.
"In the K-9 unit, he was everybody's mentor. If you had a problem, you went to Jim, and he'd put you on the straight and narrow. He was always a straightforward guy," he said.
"He was a darn good dog handler, and one of the best I ever saw. Jim also liked working the streets and always said, `Put me on the street and leave me alone,'" Mr. Tumminello said.
"We were a support unit and would work all over the various districts. We'd get things going and would stay on the job until we got it done," he said.
Mr. Muldowney, who was known for his physical prowess, had earned the nickname "Bulldog."
"He was the type of guy who'd run through a steel door for you. He was modest and not a braggart," Mr. Tumminello said.
Police officers serving in the canine unit had their German shepherds stay with them even when they were off-duty.
"He had Smokey, Wolf and King," said his wife of 34 years, the former Barbara White, who now lives in Parkville. "However, he didn't like cats."
Mr. Muldowney enjoyed keeping in shape by lifting weights, jogging and watching his diet, but by the time he was in his late 50s, he began to be afflicted by Alzheimer's, his wife said.
"He was a terrible duckpin bowler, and I used to best him all the time. He got so bad he said he wouldn't go with me, and he didn't," Mrs. Muldowney said, laughing.
Mr. Muldowney also liked racing pigeons and was a member of the Hamilton Homing Pigeon Club.
"He was also a proud Irishman, and St. Patrick's Day was a big day for him. We'd always go out and celebrate," Mrs. Muldowney said.
"We also got married on St. Patrick's Day, and Monday would have been our 35th anniversary," she said.
Mr. Muldowney was a communicant of St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church, 11 Willow Ave. in Overlea, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today.
Also surviving are a daughter, Kathleen M. Russell of Churchville; two stepsons, James M. Muldowney of Greensboro, N.C., and Robert J. Muldowney of Forest Hill; a stepdaughter, Rita M. Martinez of Taos, N.M.; a brother, Robert Muldowney of Reading, Pa.; a sister, Mary Anne Donlin of Pottsville, Pa.; and six grandchildren. An earlier marriage ended in divorce.