'He gave his life with courage and selflessness'
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.
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 Libkes life, Oregon City Police Chief Jim Band noted that he personally interviewed the shooters 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 neighbors door.
Robs intervention in the call saved lives, Band said, also reading from a letter by Libkes father-in-law, Thomas Spires: He gave his life with courage and selflessness.
For his heroic actions on Nov. 3, Libke was awarded the Medal of Valor, Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Service Medal and the OCPD Chiefs Medal of Merit. He was also awarded the Medal of Ultimate Sacrifice by the Oregon Governors 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 Libkes 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.
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 familys 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.
Oregon City Municipal Judge Laraine McNiece officiated the wedding and Libkes celebration of life. Recalling their wedding vows that promised to be your best friend and love you with all your heart, McNiece told Libkes 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 Libkes 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.
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 Libkes wedding played Pinks 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 Revivals Fortunate Son played during photos of his police work.
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.