A veteran officer assigned to the from the day it opened is being remembered as a dedicated and hard-working man.
Frank Romeo, who had cancer, died Wednesday night surrounded by family at his home, Acting Chief Roy Wright said. He was 58.
"Frank's going to be sorely missed," Wright said. He described him as a big man who might have come across to some as gruff. But to those who knew him, Frank—who stood well over 6 feet tall and weighed 300 pounds—was "a big teddy bear."
His family was originally from , and he began work with the police department in December 1975. The Valley Park resident became the department's liaison at the Galleria mall. He took care of business, handling paperwork and other responsibilities.
Neither his family nor his co-workers knew Frank had cancer for a long time.
"He didn't want to burden anyone else with his problems," Wright said.
Instead, he focused on his job.
"Frank was very dedicated to the city of Richmond Heights and in particular the safety of everyone that came out there to the mall," he said.
Patrolman Tim Schilli first met Frank after being assigned to the Galleria in 1996. The two worked together there until 2008.
"Frank was a one-of-a-kind guy," Schilli said. "He always wanted to do things his way. It was very important to him that the Galleria detail was run a certain way, and he basically made his career out of running that detail."
The officer was so well-respected that police in Des Peres, St. Peters and Hazelwood consulted with him in developing their own mall procedures. He came up with arrest and booking procedures and developed ways to interact with shoppers, staff and management.
While police working at the Galleria came and went, Schilli said, Frank remained.
"Frank was always the constant out there," he said.
He is survived by three daughters, multiple grandchildren and numerous brothers and sisters.
A viewing is planned from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday at , 7456 Manchester Rd. in Maplewood. A procession will pass by the Richmond Heights Public Safety Building on its way to the funeral service, scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church, 7230 Dale Ave. in Richmond Heights.
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