Chase Squires February 21, 2001, Wednesday Copyright 2001 Times Publishing Company St. Petersburg Times February 21, 2001, Wednesday
(DADE CITY, Fla.) -- Former Dade City Police Chief Thomas Todd, who held the post officially for about two months in 1987 before leaving to pursue a career in education, died Sunday in South Florida of cancer. He was 54.
Todd joined the Dade City force in 1983 after a career with the Clearwater Police Department and served under former Chief Bernie Enlow until Enlow was fired in 1986. He served as acting chief for several months until he was installed as chief in January 1987.
Todd left the city in March of that year, citing his desire to teach.
His brief tenure in Dade City won him friends and created controversy. Under his watch, the department was criticized for its handling of a disturbance outside a youth dance in December 1986 when department members used a fire hose to break up a crowd made up mostly of black youths.
Those who worked with him remembered his strengths Tuesday.
"He was a quiet, laid-back man," said police Capt. David Duff, who worked under him. "He was a good guy to work with."
"He was very reserved, low-key," Fire Chief Bob Cabot said. "He didn't like to be in the limelight. He preferred to do his work from behind the scenes. He was a very nice man to work with, very knowledgeable. He liked the teaching arena, sharing what he knew with others."
Todd left Dade City to take a teaching job at an Arizona community college, the first in a series of academic pursuits, his sister, Julie Houston, said in a telephone interview from her home in Brazil, Ind.
He taught at colleges in Arizona, New York and West Virginia before starting another career working for the National Park Service in security. He worked at the Grand Canyon, Grand Teton National Park and the Everglades before settling down as chief of security for the swank Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo.
In each case, his wife of 27 years, Nancy, traveled with him, Houston said.
Todd suffered a heart attack last year but was recovering well when he felt a tingling in his arm in December. At first, he dismissed it as a strained muscle, but when the feeling spread to his leg, a medical exam indicated that he might have a disc problem, his sister said.
An operation to repair what appeared to be a bulging disc in his neck revealed a tumor, and further exams found that his body was racked with cancer, his sister said.
Houston said she flew down to be with her brother over the weekend. He watched racing on television as he rested Saturday and recognized her when she visited.
He died Sunday, five weeks after he was diagnosed with cancer.
Todd was cremated, and his ashes will be sprinkled along an Indiana creek where he played as a boy, Houston said.
A memorial service is scheduled for March 18 in Brazil, Ind. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the American Cancer Society, Houston said.
"We could never keep up with him, all the places he went. He really enjoyed it," Houston said. "He did a lot, and he saw a lot."