Early Days in Detroit
Few people can say they’ve spent their whole life in service to their city, their community, and their country. Michael, a veteran of the United States Army and former member of the Dearborn and Taylor Police Departments, can.
Born in the City of Detroit in the mid-1920s, Michael grew up with his family near the intersection of 24th and Myrtle. Though initially a comfortable family of four, one day, when Michael was just seven years old, his Dad left out of the blue and never came back, leaving the mother and her two sons to fend for themselves. “We had a rough time then,” Michael said, putting it mildly.
But the young family got by, and Michael was no sooner enrolled in Cass Tech High School that he was drafted into the United States Army during the closing years of World War Two. During his service, Michael was able to take classes at the University of Milan in Italy to continue his education, and upon his return, presented his certificate and credits to the Cass Tech administration. They were accepted, and Michael was able to graduate with the very next class.
Joining the Dearborn Police Force
“From there, I used the G.I. Bill to study photography at the local community college,” Michael said of the months following his Cass Tech graduation. “And shortly after that I applied at the Dearborn Police Department.” Though it took several years, Michael was hired in the patrol division where he rode around in a scout car and gave “nasty tickets to people who didn’t behave,” he said, laughing. The year was 1952, and the annual salary of a police officer was $4,250 (minus the cost of their uniforms).
Though he was working as a police officer, and a second job hauling steel around the city to make ends meet, Michael never stopped educating himself. He took special courses from the University of Applied Science out of Chicago, where he learned about fingerprinting, gathering evidence, and other essential aspects of advanced police work. After eight years on the force and completing his ongoing education, an opening came up in Dearborn’s CSI Bureau, and Michael was hired in – serving the city of Dearborn as a crime scene investigator for the next 28 years.
The job of crime scene investigator was never short on action. Michael said his unit responded to everything from homicides and suicides to bank robberies and breaking and entering – investigating just about any type of crime you could imagine. They even worked closely with federal agencies. “The FBI loved us because we did all the work and then we handed it to them,” he said with laughter.
A Life-Changing Costume Party
Despite all of the excitement of his professional life, it would be a simple costume party that would forever change his personal life. Thrown by a friend in Detroit, it was at this party that Michael, dressed as a cowboy, would meet the love of his life, Anne, and they would go on to marry on his birthday the next year. They had six children together, four girls and two boys, and lived happily in Dearborn where the kids grew up and eventually went to school.
After raising the kids, Anne, then age 45, decided to go back to work, applying for a job with the United States Treasury Department as a revenuer. She was soon hired. “If your wife wants to get even with you, that’s what she should do,” Michael joked about his wife joining the Treasury. “About two months after she was hired, I got a letter telling me I was about to undergo a full two-year audit.”
After all of his years with the Dearborn Police Department, Michael retired and spent an additional two years serving the community with the City of Taylor. When he finally took off his badge for the last time, the couple enjoyed their retirement with frequent trips to many different places including Germany, Alaska, and Disney parks on both coasts. He soon had 18 grandchildren and 28 great grandchildren – a true testament to the close-knit and loving family he had built.
His own children, too, went on to long and successful careers. One son followed Michael into the armed forces, serving in the Air Force (and eventually breaking the sound barrier on his last flight), and another became an engineer at Ford Motor Company. One daughter became a nurse, and another a physical therapist. Looking back on his life so far, Michael is quick to point out how lucky he has been. “I consider myself very fortunate,” he says of his life, “very lucky.”