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Robert V. Schnurr, 1921-2006 // Retired officer dies after a long illness

Robert Schnurr had planned to make the military his career.

But then, just after the end of World War II, he met a young woman named Wanda Byrd at a USO dance at Drew Field in Tampa, where he was stationed. Suddenly he decided it would be a lot more pleasant to marry and settle down in sunny Florida.

Just a couple of years later, Mr. Schnurr joined the Tampa Police Department, where he built a 27-year career that led him into all facets of police work. He did everything from working with the vice squad to serving as a court bailiff to acting as the assistant to several chiefs of police.

He spent the last half of his life in Brandon, where he had moved with his wife and two sons in 1963.

Mr. Schnurr passed away Feb. 11 after a year and a half of declining health, including an amputation of one leg. He was 84 years old.

"He was very quiet about his work," said his son, Conrad Schnurr."He hardly ever talked about police work with his family."

The closest he ever got to discussing it, his son said, was to warn his family about accepting gifts from people they didn't know. That was especially true when he was with the vice squad and the family lived in Ybor City. Bad guys would proffer gifts in an attempt to gain favor with Mr. Schnurr.

But he did include his family in one aspect of his work. Mr. Schnurr played saxophone in the Tampa Police Department band. His son, Conrad, also a saxophonist, was one of only a few civilians who was invited to join the band.

In the 1960s and into the 1970s, the band was quite popular in the area, accompanying visiting singers, recording a few albums and appearing on a local 15-minute TV show called Lawful Rhythms.

After he retired, Mr. Schnurr worked at a few jobs, including security at the Tampa Jai-Alai fronton. His passion was caring for his two granddaughters every day after school.

"After he retired, he was Mr. Mom, Daddy Day Care,' his son said. "He'd pick my daughters up after school every day, and he was just so open with them. He was a great father and he was an even better grandfather."

Mr. Schnurr is survived by his wife, Wanda, two sons, Conrad and Robert, and two granddaughters.