Michael J. Cortezi, veteran, police officer

November 26, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen

Michael James Cortezi, a World War II veteran and retired member of the Baltimore sheriff's department who had been assigned to the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse, died Thursday of complications from Alzheimer's disease at Lifespring Hampton Meadows, a Towson assisted-living facility. He was 86.

Mr. Cortezi was born in Baltimore and raised on West 23rd Street. He attended Polytechnic Institute and later earned his General Educational Development certificate.

Mr. Cortezi enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942 and served with an anti-aircraft battery in the Pacific.

While on Samoa, Mr. Cortezi learned to speak the native language.

"He spoke fluent Samoan and organized a network of natives who spied on the Japanese troops and reported on their movements," said his daughter, Ellen Cortezi-Kuder of Phoenix, Baltimore County.

After being discharged with the rank of corporal in 1945, Mr. Cortezi became a city police officer in 1946. Later, he owned and operated a pizzeria in Edmondson Village Shopping Center.

During the 1960s and 1970s, he was a private detective with the Wackenhut Corp. From 1981 until retiring with the rank of major in 1995, Mr. Cortezi was employed by the city sheriff's department.

Mr. Cortezi, who enjoyed writing, was the author of several short stories for children.

"He also was the author of Italian Family Secrets, a published cookbook," his daughter said.

Services were Saturday.

Also surviving are a nephew, Samuel Cortese of Naples, Fla. His marriage to Kathryn Robinson ended in divorce.

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