NORTH RIDGEVILLE - Edward “Marti” Garrow used to recall how children would chase after fire trucks as they sped down rural roads while he was growing up in Columbia Station.
But not him. Garrow chased after police cars. He said he always wanted to become a police officer — to get caught up in the pursuit, right the wrongs while being fair, solve crimes and help others.
That was how friends remember Garrow, who died of cancer Oct. 9 at age 52. He was marking 30 years with the North Ridgeville Police Department as its only captain and second in seniority.
"We've lost some of our toughness," said North Ridgeville Police Chief Michael Freeman, who worked with Garrow for 25 years. “This is a tremendous loss for his family and for us.”
Garrow is survived by his wife of 26 years, Robin, and sons Shane, Sean, Corey and Hayden. Shane is serving in the U.S. Marines Corps and Corey is serving in the U.S. Army.
Garrow’s funeral service was Monday at the Bogner Family Funeral Home in North Ridgeville with the Rev. David Schwartz officiating. Following the service, a long procession made its way to Royalton Road Cemetery in Columbia Station where Garrow is buried.
Garrow, a Dayton native, moved to Columbia Station with his family in 1975. A 1985 graduate of Columbia High School, Garrow had a lot of pride in the town where he grew up and was active with the Columbia Youth Wrestling Program he and his wife founded about 12 years ago. Garrow wrestled in high school and loved coaching youth. The Columbia Youth Wrestling Program grew to about 40 kids, and Garrow built a training facility at his home for the wrestlers.
More recently, Garrow built stage props for the Columbia High School Drama Club’s production of "The Wizard of Oz," which Robin Garrow directed.
"When someone needed help, he did whatever was asked," said Jeff Jump, athletic director for Columbia Local Schools.
Garrow was hired by the North Ridgeville Police Department on Dec. 4, 1989. He officially joined the department as an officer on April 4, 1990 after graduating from the Ohio State Patrol Police Academy.
He was a member of the department's crisis intervention team, a field training officer, an emergency vehicle driving instructor and a detective bureau supervisor.
“He always had your back,” said Detective Sgt. Adam Freas, who had Garrow as one of his field training officers and later often as his officer in charge in the patrol division. “If you needed to improve on something like report writing — which I did — Marti wasn’t afraid to get the red pen out and nitpick it. He made it better, and he made you improve.”
Freas, who has worked for the department since 1994, called Garrow “just a sincere, genuine person.”
“He still kept to his roots, and always remembered where he came from,” he said.
Freeman said Garrow was a throwback officer who understood the duties of the job. He brought some toughness to the department. He could be stubborn — and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, the chief said.
“He was just stubborn in knowing that you don't always take the first answer that you hear, especially if an investigation was going in a different direction," he said.
Others described him as a true leader, family man, a "cop's cop," a storyteller and epic pig roast host with his annual pig roasts.
"Marti was someone we could always go to," Mayor Dave Gillock said. "He was level-headed and very good at what he did. He wanted to serve the community, and he did that very well.”
Garrow was promoted to the rank of captain in 2011.
He had more than 3,000 hours of training in various areas, Freeman said.
"His knowledge of the job was outstanding," Freeman said. "A great void will be created in our department because of that."
North Ridgeville Safety-Service Director Jeff Armbruster, who has worked for the city for 22 years in various capacities, said he had often worked alongside Freeman and Garrow.
"Marti was an outstanding individual," Armbruster said. "I found him to be a family-first person, but when he came to work, he did his job well. He had a family at home, and he had a family at work, too. He was extremely good at what he did and an excellent administrator."
"He was always even and fair," Armbruster added. "There was never a time I heard him raise his voice. He was part of the success of the North Ridgeville Police Department and nurtured that success. He was just a nice guy."
Westlake, one of North Ridgeville's neighboring cities, expressed its condolences to the department and Garrow's family.
”You hate hearing something like this,” said Capt. Jerry Vogel of the Westlake Police Department. “We have several officers who worked with him at North Ridgeville before coming here, and we knew what a professional he was.”
Memorials are suggested to the Garrow Family Memorial Fund at any Fifth/Third Bank Branch.
Contact this reporter at email@example.com, or 440-871-5797.