Obituary: 32-year veteran officer

(MANDAN, N.D.) -- Mandan Police Officer Joe Magelki once directed a lot of traffic -- to his house Whenever Magelki -- who walked his beat, starting in the 1940s -- met people who needed a meal and didn't have the money to get it, he sent them to Betty, his wife.

'There were people at our house often (getting food),' said Magelki's daughter, June Schreiner, who with family and friends gathered Wednesday for her father's funeral. Magelki died Saturday at age 85, after complications from a stroke.

Magelki, on the police force for 32 years, had his own problems -- health problems, bad legs -- but no one ever heard him complain, said friends.

'He was always smiling,' Schreiner said.

Every morning, he had a big 'Good mo-r-r-r-rning, Leo,' for fellow officer Leo Snider, who is now Morton County's sheriff, Snider said Wednesday.

Snider said that being a Mandan police officer back then meant doing a lot of walking, visiting all the businesses. And it wasn't easy for Magelki, who even as a young officer had bad legs.

'He had a hard time walking up and down (the streets). But he did it,' Snider said.

Everyone knew Magelki, described by friends as a tall, dark-haired handsome man. He was a common sight walking up and down Main Street. He'd return to the station if the light on the top of the police building lit up -- the signal that he was needed there.

In those days, police officers often were dealing with such problems as garbage in the streets or kids riding bikes on the sidewalk.

He did use his squad car, sometimes.

Son-in-law Bill Schreiner remembers his first date with June. The couple was in a car. It was about 9 p.m., and Schreiner saw a police car pass by, and then it passed by a second time and a third time. Then his future father-in-law got out and gently advised Schreiner that it was probably time for his daughter to get home.

June said it probably would be frowned on now, but Magelki was a cop who wouldn't take a drunk to jail. He'd take the person home.

'He didn't want to embarrass the family,' June said.

She said he never shot his gun in 32 years, but that doesn't mean Mandan was always peaceful.

June remembers the day her dad and other officers were warned that robbers could be heading through Mandan. He was stationed on the end of town where they weren't. Another police officer, Ralph Senn, wasn't so lucky and was kidnapped by the robbers but eventually found in OK condition in Montana.

Magelki, born and raised in Mandan, returned home after World War II. He worked for one year at a tire shop and then began his 32 years of service with the police department, retiring as a sergeant.

'Policing was his life,' June said.

For the most part.

When he had a day off, he transformed into a fisherman.

But as soon as his and his fishing buddy's lines were in the water at Graner Bottoms, it was time to make music. They would get out their saxophones and play, June said.

It couldn't be ascertained whether he was an accomplished musician. But his police work is still remembered.

'He was one of the best,' Snider said.

(iSyndicate; The Bismarck Tribune; Nov. 16, 2000). Terms and Conditions: Copyright(c) 2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

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