Town remembers the life of Chief of Police Emeritus Gary K. Tyler

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Fri., Aug. 26, 2011
Virginia Tyler receives a flag from U.S. Rep. John Larson's office, presented by Billy and John Mitchell. Photos by Martha Marteney.
Virginia Tyler receives a flag from U.S. Rep. John Larson's office, presented by Billy and John Mitchell. Photos by Martha Marteney.

On Friday, Aug. 26, the South Windsor Police Department held a ceremony of remembrance for Chief of Police Emeritus Gary K. Tyler, who succumbed to cancer Aug. 9. Hundreds of residents, elected officials, town staff members, police officers, friends and family members joined together at Maneeley’s to honor Tyler’s years of service to the South Windsor Police Department and to celebrate his life.

While friends and colleagues spoke of Tyler, there was much shared laughter, as they remembered his strong personal leadership style as well as his sense of humor. Through anecdotes, those gathered heard Tyler's voice, relived his quirks, appreciated his vision for the SWPD and the community as a whole, and felt the impact he had on the lives of those around him.

“He was not just a professional,” said South Windsor Town Manager Matthew Galligan, “he had a sense of humor.” Their professional relationship merged into a friendship over the course of 16 years, as Galligan grew to know the man Tyler was. Galligan attributed South Windsor's low crime rate, and its recent “Money Magazine” ranking on the list of 100 best small towns, to Tyler's leadership.

The memorial service and light lunch was organized by the SWPD.  “We do this with sadness in our hearts,” said SWPD Chief Matthew D. Reed, “but surely with joy for his life.” Reed was the first person Tyler hired after becoming police chief. “I can't imagine my 23 years of service without him,” said Reed.

“He was a remarkable leader, a tremendous mentor, and became a good friend,” said Deputy Chief Richard Riggs. “He was a guy you didn't want to disappoint.”

One of the few SWPD officers hired before Tyler's tenure, Lt. Richard Bond, said, “Good things happen when you have a leader who believes in you.” Bond's sharing of his personal struggles, and of how Tyler handled the issues, exemplified Tyler's personality and humor. If you do your best, use your head, and do what's right, said Bond, “the man had your back.”

Tyler's family also participated in the service, with his daughter, Diana Brandt, reading Maya Angelou's poem, “When Great Trees Die,” and his granddaughter, Lauren Brandt, singing “Amazing Grace.” Tyler's wife, Virginia, received a memorial flag from the SWPD Honor Guard, as well as flag flown at the United States Capitol from U.S. Rep. John Larson (D-1).

“We are all made better by the words that were said today,” noted Rabbi Jeff Glickman, adding that the community was made better by Tyler's life itself. He asked, “How are you going to remember Gary Tyler?”

In compliance with a special request by Tyler himself, the memorial closed with the playing of “Happy Trails,” by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.


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