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25 Years Later, Fallen Officer’s Daughter Throws Party

The News Tribune via YellowBrix

January 25, 2010

Emily Nollmeyer of Tacoma doesn’t remember her father’s funeral.

She was 4 years old when Tacoma police officer Craig Nollmeyer was shot to death Jan. 24, 1985, on a domestic violence call in the North End.

A fight between a man and his wife escalated into gunfire. The man killed both his wife and Nollmeyer, who was walking down an alley toward the home.

Newsm11002003

Officer Craig Nollmeyer

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of her father’s passing, Emily Nollmeyer hosted a dinner Sunday night in downtown Tacoma. More than 100 colleagues, friends and family members of Craig Nollmeyer gathered to celebrate the soft-spoken, devout man who played band in high school and made cabinets before becoming a police officer.

The officer’s widow, Patty Rubottom, and son Trevor – now a Spokane police officer – were also in attendance.

“A part of me always wanted to meet these people who knew my father,” Emily Nollmeyer said. Her own memories are hazy; she recalls the smell of leather, pine sap and shoe polish, the sound of her father reading the Bible at bedtime.

Washington’s six law enforcement deaths in recent months stirred up painful memories for Nollmeyer, who feels for the officers’ loved ones: “I’ve been on this journey for 25 years, and they’re just at the beginning. Knowing what they’re facing, it makes your heart hurt.”

At the Sunday dinner, guests lined up for heaping servings of lasagna, salad, cake, cookies and Craig Nollmeyer’s favorite dessert, apple pie. A table decorated with blue balloons carried old photographs, Craig Nollmeyer’s motorcycle helmet and a sign reading “Nollmeyer Lane,” a 300-foot-long walkway that runs from Yakima Avenue to the County-City Building, named in honor of the fallen officer.

Patty Rubottom described her husband as a popular, steady friend who served in 10 weddings, either as best man or groomsman. They met at Lake City Community Church in Lakewood and married in June 1976, despite his protest on their first date that he was “a bachelor forever.”

Richard Karman attended Lakes High School with Craig Nollmeyer and remembered his longtime friend as a good problem solver—thoughtful and forgiving. After Karman went into law enforcement in the mid-1970s, he got a call from his old high school buddy, asking if he’d recommend police work. Karman, now a crime analyst with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon, said yes.

That conversation still haunts him, over 30 years later. “I told him it was a good job,” Karman said, briefly choked with emotion. “It’s still a good job, it’s just painful to remember.”

Tacoma police sergeant Gary Stril served with Craig Nollmeyer during the officer’s three years at the department. Between shifts, the two of them used to talk in the locker room about faith and family. “He was an extremely decent person,” said Stril, who came out in uniform to honor his one-time colleague. “It’s no small thing, to give your life.”

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