Celebration-of-life service for fallen OCPD Officer Robert Libke includes full military honors, heart-rending memories

At a service with thousands in attendance at Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, Oregon City Reserve Officer Rob Libke was remembered as a natural leader — highly organized, practical, realistic, no-nonsense, tough-minded, dedicated and disciplined.

by: PHOTO BY: JON HOUSE - Members of the Combined Regional Honor Guard wrap up the flag to present to the fallen volunteer's wife during the memorial service for OCPD Reserve Officer Rob Libke.Libke died on Nov. 4 at the age of 41 after being shot in the line of duty. While responding to a local house fire during the previous afternoon, the suspected arsonist shot Libke in the face before shooting himself.

During the Nov. 14 celebration of Libke’s life, Oregon City Police Chief Jim Band noted that he personally interviewed the shooter’s neighbor Pam Laird, who feared for the safety of her two grandchildren when she called police. Based on that interview and other available evidence, Band has concluded that Libke did his duty in putting his life on the line to stop a man from breaking down a neighbor’s door.

“Rob’s intervention in the call saved lives,” Band said, also reading from a letter by Libke’s father-in-law, Thomas Spires: “He gave his life with courage and selflessness.”

by: OCPD - Robert LibkeFor his heroic actions on Nov. 3, Libke was awarded the Medal of Valor, Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Service Medal and the OCPD Chief’s Medal of Merit. He was also awarded the Medal of Ultimate Sacrifice by the Oregon Governor’s Commission so that the family of the officer who worked part-time and for free could receive full death benefits.

“The fact that he was a volunteer officer speaks volumes,” said Heidi Moawad, representative to Gov. John Kitzhaber.

As a person who liked to understand things before taking action, speakers at the service referred to Libke’s strong sense of duty that he carried with him throughout his life. Possessed with traditional “old school” morals, Libke earned the respect of everyone acquainted with him by communicating his goal to be a stable force in his community.

by: PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Robert Libke's wife, Wendy, who is pregnant with their first child and being pushed in a wheelchair, leads her family members to the front row of a service for the Oregon City officer who was killed in the line of duty.A civic-minded person, he was a member of several community groups that included various committees for OCPD, where he was hired in September 2009. According to his family’s obituary, he was always ready to help organize community activities, events and projects and then see to it that they were run as efficiently as possible. After he attended the Clackamas County Interagency Reserve Academy, Former Mayor Alice Norris swore him into the OCPD force in March 2010.

His anxious expectation of his first daughter, Ziva Nicole Libke, heightened the sense of tragedy for the community. On Feb. 20, 2011, he married Wendy Nicole Spires at The Old Church of Portland.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JONATHAN HOUSE - Oregon City Police Chief James Band told the memorial service audience about the work that Officer Robert Libke did for the community.Oregon City Municipal Judge Laraine McNiece officiated the wedding and Libke’s celebration of life. Recalling their wedding vows that promised “to be your best friend and love you with all your heart,” McNiece told Libke’s wife that she would always keep him in her heart.

Family members said that Libke, as an objective and conscientious individual, found comfort in the security in relatives. Born on Aug. 29, 1972, at Willamette Falls Hospital in Oregon City, Libke was raised in Portland with his sister Angie, who wrote a letter for the service saying that she still was feeling the same stream of tears that were falling on Libke’s deathbed at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland.

“I will be forever lost without you,” she wrote.

Libke was also survived by his mother Fran, her husband, Norm, many friends, and brothers and sisters in arms. Hundreds of officers from across the state attended the service, along with city, county and state officials. City Manager David Frasher decided to close City Hall in Oregon City, so most of his employees attended the service. Frasher said it was the least he could do to honor the family by allowing City Hall employees to pay their respects.

by: PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Hundreds of police officers from across Oregon and Washington file into Memorial Coliseum on Nov. 14 to celebrate the life of a fallen OCPD reserve member.With Chief Fred Charlton at their head, Clackamas Fire personnel led other firefighters into the coliseum and provided a drum-and-fife band as part of a traditional military funeral ceremony. Musical and video segments at the service celebrated the joy that Libke had for life. Slideshow portions of Libke’s wedding played Pink’s “Glitter in the Air,” hunting-trip photos streamed by to heavy-metal songs, his days growing up in the ’80 included period music, and Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” played during photos of his police work.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JONATHAN HOUSE - Patrol cars from several law enforcement agencies led a procession on Interstate 205 prior to Thursday's memorial service in Portland for Oregon City Officer Robert Lipke.Being general supervisor was his day job for 16 years at Evraz Oregon Steel, where he was praised as an efficient, hard worker. Fellow steel workers said Libke, able to analyze problems and keep everyone on track, was always striving to make necessary improvements. Libke could be counted on there to be a person who quickly made decisions based on the information available. His co-workers found that he worked cooperatively and expected the same from his colleagues.

His favorite hobbies were hunting, camping and recreational sports such as cross training, running and golf. His favorite teams to watch were the Portland Trail Blazers and the San Francisco 49ers. He graduated from John Marshall High School in 1991 with the personal motto, “Do it right the first time.”

All who knew him agreed that Libke was a pillar of the community who lived his life constantly seeking means for self-improvement, including by applying to be a full-time OCPD officer. In both his personal and professional environments, he held himself to the high standards, his family obituary added. As a mentor to many in Oregon City, he was willing to share his ideas and knowledge so that they could accomplish more in life.

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