Retired Oakland County Sheriff’s Deputy Barry Sill, who helped found the Oakland Township substation and spent most of his career patrolling the township, died April 30 at his home in Carlsbad, CA.
Sill, who had a long battle with cancer, was 69.
Sill, a husband, father and grandfather, was remembered by his peers as an outstanding police officer.
“He was just an all-around great guy – the kind of guy that you’d be proud to call your friend and your co-worker," said Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe. "He exhibited such professionalism representing the Sheriff’s Office.”
He was also remembered as compassionate.
"He was a great police officer, but first and foremost, he was a compassionate person," said Sgt. Dale Romeo, who worked with Sill at the Oakland Township Substation. "He always strived to help people."
Sill spent much of his career with the Sheriff's Office patrolling Oakland Township.
Initially, said Romeo, the deputies patrolled the township out of a substation on Lapeer Road in Orion Township. In 1990, Sill helped found the Oakland Township Substation, which originally occupied the basement level of the current substation.
"In many, many ways, Barry, with his knowledge and his experience – and he was such a personable individual – he made law enforcement what it was in that township for so many years," said Romeo.
“To me, he was the foundation that we built that station on because of his way with people and his input and his demeanor. He seemed to get along with just about everybody.”
"We old-timers remember Barry," said McCabe. He chuckled, adding, "He was a pretty funny guy – a practical joker."
"He was known as a jokester and a great cartoonist," said Romeo, who recounted how Sill would draw cartoons of the deputies. "He kept us laughing at the station."
Romeo chuckled as he remembered using tennis rackets to stun bats that had made their way into the substation.
"He'd put notches on the tennis rackets for how many bats we took out," said Romeo. "Barry led the charge when we got invaded by the bats at the Oakland Township Substation."
Sill, who was McCabe's training officer, also played practical jokes on other deputies, said McCabe.
“There was one particular deputy, who will remain nameless, who maybe needed to be taught a lesson," he said. "So maybe one day, he might’ve come into work and went to put his shoes on, and his shoes were frozen solid with water.”
Sill was not only well-liked and respected by his peers, he was also a part of the community, said Romeo. "He made an impact, he really did."
“He treated everybody just great; we used to get letters all the time from citizens complimenting Barry," said McCabe. "It’s a sad time around the Sheriff’s Office.”
Sill grew up in the area, playing high school basketball and baseball in Lake Orion.
After high school, he was a sailor in the U.S. Navy and participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.
As a young man, he worked briefly in security at General Motors Corp. before a childhood friend persuaded him to join the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, where he would stay until he retired in 1995.
After Sill retired in 1995, he spent a few years in Florida and Illinois before settling in Carlsbad.
Sill is survived by his wife, Tana; son, Jay; daughter, Scotty; and four grandchildren.