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Family, friends remember Middletown police chief as ‘a real showman’

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 4:02 PM
Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 4:32 PM


            In this 2006 file photo, Russell Dwyer is pictured at the WPFB radio station in Middletown, where he was the news director. Dwyer, a former Middletown police chief, died April 23. He was 80.
In this 2006 file photo, Russell Dwyer is pictured at the WPFB radio station in Middletown, where he was the news director. Dwyer, a former Middletown police chief, died April 23. He was 80.

There were two sides to Russell Dwyer. He was a cop and a comic.

Dwyer, who served as Middletown’s police chief from 1975-87, died Monday night. He was 80.

Longtime friend Ann Mort, who, along with her husband, Dick, frequently traveled with the Dwyers and other couples to Middletown basketball and football games, said he was “a real showman.”

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After Middie games, they went to Lakeside Inn, pushed tables together in the dining room, and danced and sang songs playing on the jukebox.

“Russ was fun,” Mort said. “He could have been a stand-up comic.”

He had a serious side, too. Mort said Dwyer enjoyed it when Middletown police officers wore their dress uniforms and hats.

“He was proud to be a policeman,” she said.

Dwyer graduated from Franklin High School, attended Miami University, and was later awarded the Bishop Medal and was a graduate of the FBI Dignitary Protection Academy. He retired after 27 years of service from the City of Middletown/Division of Police, where he served as police chief for 13 years.

He was involved with many organizations and held various positions within the Middletown community; secretary/treasurer for the International Association of Chiefs of Police; secretary/treasurer for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police; founder of the Narcotics Division for the City of Middletown; founder of Safety Town; founding committee for the All American Weekend; member of the Chamber of Commerce; member of the Rotary Club; director of safety at Bob’s Truck Service; director of safety and vice president for Excel Trucking; news director for WPFB radio; and a member of the Madison Athletic Boosters.

Rodney Muterspaw, Middletown’s police chief, said he met Dwyer after he had left the department. Every time, Muterspaw said, Dwyer took “a real interest” in his career.

“Always came up to shake my hand and said, ‘hello,’ which meant a lot to me as a new officer,” Muterspaw said.

One of Dwyer’s sons, Anthony Dwyer, chief deputy of the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, grew up knowing athletics and police work because of his father. He said his father was “totally committed” to Middletown and the Middletown Police Department.

Russ Dwyer golfed, pitched softball with the police department team and refereed football games for years, his son said.

He also saw his father’s profession at an early age, sneaking down at night when officers returned telling “war stores” from their shifts.

“I didn’t aspire to be a police officer. Not at first,” Anthony Dwyer said. But after college, he took a job in the county jail and moved onto patrol officer then detective.

“I was hooked,” Anthony Dwyer said. “Later in life he told me he was proud of me for what I had accomplished.”

He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Patricia Dwyer; children Anthony Dwyer (Molly), Robert Dwyer, Dennis Cox (Kathy) and Dana Stephens (Matt); sisters Norma Baird and Crystal Harsha (Ron); brothers Roger Dwyer (Kathy), Ralph Dwyer (Joyce) and Paul Dwyer (Marty); eight grandchildren, Russell Dwyer, Anthony Dwyer, Dylan Dwyer, Brandon Dwyer, Ashley Cox, Allison Cox, Alex Cornele and Lucas Cornele; four great grandchildren, and a very special caregiver, Mariah Smith.

Funeral services are at 10 a.m. Friday at Breitenbach Anderson Funeral Home, 517 S. Sutphin St. Burial will be in Springboro Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home.

Staff Writer Lauren Pack contributed to this report.

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