Walter G. Biegala, a longtime Toledo police officer and Lucas County Coroner’s investigator, died Aug. 2 at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center. He was 74.
He had been hospitalized for internal bleeding and died of heart complications, his wife, Marcia Biegala, said.
He loved fishing and golfing, and he had just golfed on July 31, she added.
Mr. Biegala joined the Toledo Police Department in 1965 and climbed the ranks to detective sergeant over his nearly 30-year career. He was a skilled interrogator and remained calm in trying situations, his wife said.
He had many proud moments as a police officer, but one stood out to him in particular. Mr. Biegala and his partner were the first to arrive on the scene of a 20-month-old child found drowned face-down in a bathtub. The two provided artificial respiration for 30 minutes and saved the child’s life, Mrs. Biegala said.
He left the detective bureau to spend his last three years on the force working in communications. He retired in 1994.
But Mr. Biegala couldn’t stay retired, Mrs. Biegala said. About a year later he joined the Lucas County Coroner's Office as an investigator, where he worked until 2008.
“He brought a lot of experience to the job and he was an excellent investigator,” said Lucas County Coroner Dr. James Patrick, a friend and former colleague. “Because of his experience, he dealt with people very well. We were sorry when he retired again.”
Mr. Biegala worked long hours and was often on-call, so retirement afforded him free time to golf, fish, and spend time with family, especially his grandchildren, Mrs. Biegala said.
The two of them spent most winters in Florida beginning in 2009.
Mr. Biegala was born Feb. 26, 1943 in Toledo to Leona and Walter Biegala. Before joining the police department, he taught himself to swim and joined the U.S. Coast Guard.
“He did what he wanted to do. He figured a way out. Nothing stopped him,” Mrs. Biegala said.
He served for six months on the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, which has since been turned into a Great Lakes maritime museum in Cheboygan County, Michigan.
He remained active with the Coast Guard until 1981.
“He was really proud of that,” Mrs. Biegala said. “They would go on Lake Erie and make paths for the ships to go through.”
Later, he lived mostly in Oregon and he enjoyed buying and fixing up homes around the Oregon area, so he and Mrs. Biegala moved quite often.
“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve moved,” she said. “He had a passion for carpentry and rebuilding and remodeling.”
In retirement Mr. Biegala also volunteered at Mercy Health St. Charles Hospital and sponsored many people through the Alcoholics Anonymous program.
Surviving are his wife, Marcia, whom he married on April 18, 1986; son, Larry Biegala; daughter, Kim Dunmyer; stepson, Todd Drayton; stepdaughter, Chris Hottman; seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Visitation is from 2-8 p.m. Monday at the Eggleston Meinert & Pavley Funeral Home in Oregon, with Coast Guard services at 6 p.m. Funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.
The family suggests tributes to Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Oregon or Cedar Creek Church, which has branches across the Toledo area.
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