Robert Soyez of Marion would rather have been riding in a police car mentoring a young officer Sept. 4 than sitting in the Marion City Council room listening to Marion Police Chief Tyler Mermis acknowledge his retirement from the Marion Police Department.
Soyez is well-respected among Marion County law enforcement officers — more than a dozen were there, along with family and friends, to pay tribute to a man who devoted 34 years to working full- and part-time for the Marion Police Department and Marion County Sheriff.
“Bob’s been a guy you can go to and ask a question, and he gives you his opinion. It’s always a good opinion, and sometimes it’s a funny opinion,” Mermis said. “We’re going to miss Bob because we look at him like a father. We really do. He’s been a good friend and a good employee.”
Given the opportunity to make remarks about Soyez during the ceremony, his former colleagues passed. Some joked the stories they had were best shared among friends.
“I’m dumbfounded right now,” Soyez said afterward.
Soyez became a full-time Marion police officer in 1978, and later served as a full-time deputy sheriff.
It might have been the emotion of the moment made it difficult for Soyez to recall the exact year in the 1990s he retired from the sheriff’s department, but it could have been because his hiatus was little more than a short vacation.
“I was retired about a month when the sheriff’s office asked me if I’d work part-time for them. Then the city also asked, so I did them, too,” Soyez said.
Garry Klose joined the Marion police department as a part-time officer in 1979. He said Soyez’s short stature created some awkward moments when Soyez adjusted the bench seat in the police car.
“Before we got bucket seats in our cars, us guys always rode with our knees up around our ears when he was driving,” Klose said.
Klose recalled a domestic disturbance call that he, Soyez, and Harvey Sanders worked. Klose and Sanders had trouble removing an agitated man from the house, and as he fought them, all three toppled into the gutter between the curb and Soyez’s car. They were still wrestling when Soyez showed up.
“Bobby came out of the house, opened the passenger door, stepped over all three of us, reached in and grabbed some paperwork, shut the door and said ‘Excuse me, carry on,’ and took off,” Klose laughed.
Soyez had a ready answer for what he enjoyed most about law enforcement.
“Helping,” Soyez said. “Helping the people within the communities, the county and the city, to help solve their problems and their crimes.”
Soyez, a mentor to many officers and a friend to all, said retirement won’t prevent him from staying in touch.
“The camaraderie with the other officers, I’ll miss that a bunch,” Soyez said. “But I’ll still slip down to the sheriff’s office and PD to get coffee.”