The Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame Association
Bruce Birr Inducted 2023 - Class of 1972
Bruce is a 1972 Woodward graduate who grew up in the North end of Toledo and attended Cherry Grade School. For Bruce, it was a great place to grow up and he made many lifelong friends. During his time at Woodward, Bruce made friends with Fred Lisk, Marion Howard, Dan Wysowaty, and Mark Hobbs. If you asked Bruce what the most important thing that happened to him at Woodward was, he would say “meeting his wife Kathy”.
After High School, Bruce played football at the University of Toledo on a football scholarship, where he studied Education and Criminal Justice. Bruce began a career at the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office in May of 1977 where he continued his Law Enforcement career until retirement, after 42 years of service, in May of 2019.
Bruce started his career in Booking. After graduation from the Police Academy Bruce was assigned to the Sheriff’s Road Patrol where he worked as a Patrol Office in Western and Eastern Lucas
He was later promoted to the Detective Bureau and certified in many different areas of law enforcement: Arson Investigation, Homicide, Burglary -Robbery -Vice -Narcotics Unit, Critical Incident Response Team (C.I.R.T.), and Dignitary Protection.
Bruce was put in charge of the Domestic Violence Arrest Round-Up in October 1998, and it continued every October for 20 years. The round-up included many local, state, and federal agencies and resulted in the arrest of over 800 offenders. In March 2005, Bruce was assigned to the United States Marshal Fugitive Task Force and served as part of it until his retirement. During that time Bruce was involved in over 7000 Felony Fugitive arrests.
One of the highlights of Bruce’s career was being assigned to the Dignitary Protection Detail with the U.S. Secret Service. Bruce provided protection for U.S. Senators Robert Dole, Elizabeth Dole, and George Voinovich as well as Vice President Dan Quayle and Presidents George H.W.Bush, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.
Bruce received many awards and commendations throughout his career. On July 10, 1989, he was awarded a commendation from the Oregon Police Department for his role in a drug trafficking investigation and arrest. Bruce was awarded the Drug-Unit Detective of the Year for Outstanding Accomplishments on May 4, 1991.
Bruce received the Merit Commendation Award from the Sylvania Police Department for recovering several thousands of dollars in stolen property in April 1999.
Bruce was awarded the U.S. Marshal Task Force Officer of the Year for Investigative Excellence in 2007 and in 2013.
Bruce received the U.S. Marshal Service Distinguished Director’s Award for Contributions to the U.S. Marshals in 2008 and 2017. Bruce also received the Hero Award from the Safety Council of Northwest Ohio and the City of Toledo Mayor Carleton Finkbeiner Award for rescuing victims of an apartment fire in North Toledo in 2008. Bruce was awarded the Richard Cordray Ohio Attorney General Distinguished Law Enforcement Achievement Award for Dedication to Protecting Ohio Citizens and Outstanding Accomplishments in the Law Enforcement Community in 2010.
Bruce was presented the William French Smith Attorney General of the United States Award for Outstanding Contributions in Law Enforcement on October 27, 2011, in Washington D.C.
Bruce was also awarded the U.S. Marshal Division of the Year Award for The Pursuit and Apprehension of Violent Fugitives within the Northern District of Ohio in 2017.
In 2018 Bruce received the U.S. Marshal Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Award for Outstanding Service to the Citizens of the Northern District of Ohio. This award was presented to him on September 12, 2019, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Bruce was member of the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association, National Sheriff’s Association, and the Knights of Columbus – 3rd Degree. Bruce also volunteered with the Toledo Old Newsboys Association, as a coach for CYO Football at St. Hedwig, Blessed Sacrament and St. Agnes, and as a coach for Little League Baseball with the Whittier Wildcats and Reynolds Corner Reds.
Bruce retired from law enforcement in May 2019. He enjoyed his retirement being “Grampy” of six grandchildren, attending his grandchildren’s sporting events, spending time with his family, and vacationing in Hollywood Florida.
Bruce married fellow Woodward graduate Kathy Hobbs (Class of 1973.) Their 47-year marriage produced three children – Angela, Andy, and Matt and six grandchildren – Karlee, Thomas, Riley, Jacob, Easton and Ellison.
Sadly, Bruce passed away March 3, 2021 surrounded by his family. His medallion will be accepted by his wife Kathy.