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Matron and Secretary
Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science
Lane has the highest praise for a management team led by Bruce Lindke, his undersheriff for the entire 20 years.
Making it Official: Chief Deputy County Clerk Valerie Martinek swears in Bruce Lindke as undersheriff and Dan Lane as sheriff on Jan. 1, 1989. Making it Official: Chief Deputy County Clerk Valerie Martinek swears in Bruce Lindke as undersheriff and Dan Lane as sheriff on Jan. 1, 1989. (Times Herald file photo)
Brown: Lindke, Torrey are law enforcement's finest
Bruce Lindke was working part-time at the Smith Funeral Home in Port Huron when our paths crossed for the first time in August 1969. As police reporter for the Time Herald, I was there in 1969 when Tom and Bruce were hired for 50 cents an hour by the late Sheriff Norman D. Meharg as special deputies for the St. Clair County Sheriff Department. Bruce, hired as a full-time road-patrol deputy Jan. 1, 1970, is the longest serving undersheriff in the history of the county. "But that's only because the longest-serving sheriff, Dan Lane, kept reappointing me undersheriff each time he was re-elected," Bruce said. Tom and Bruce became two of the most respected law enforcement officers, not only in St. Clair County and the Blue Water Area but throughout Michigan. Bruce and Bob never assumed anything. They always did their homework, and through the years they were asked by other police detective teams throughout the county and Michigan to assist in many homicide and murder investigations. Bruce and Bob never were afraid to challenge the obvious. They always took the lead, and they always trusted their instincts. For me, anyway, they embodied what great police detective work is all about. Still, there are unsolved homicide investigations that will always haunt Bruce and Bob. Bruce said that if a murder isn't solved within 72 hours, chances are it may never be solved. Police can't do it alone, they need the public's cooperation too, he said. "But it's the Karen Marie Umphrey murder that still begs to be solved for me," Bruce said. A murder case is never closed until its solved, Bruce said. Bruce and Bob also headed the largest homicide case in St. Clair County's history, which occurred April 7, 1982. Five members of a Yale-area family were shot to death in their home. As lead investigators in the grisly slaying, Bruce and Bob arrested 16-year-old Jimmy Porter of Yale. "That was the worst tragedy I ever had to investigate," Bruce said. Looking back on the years Ralph and I worked with Tom Torrey and Bruce Lindke, you can't help but see the love that they had for their work. Ask anyone who knows Tom and Bruce. Every job has its own nobility, and Tom and Bruce, for nearly 75 years combined, gave their work the respect it deserved. Bruce and Tom's longtime civic and community work, especially their involvement with the March of Dimes Jail and Bail programs, speaks for itself. Bruce, 62, was born July 31, 1946, to Edwin and Katherine Lindke. Bruce also received a degree in mortuary science in 1969 from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. He still works at the Smith Funeral Home part time. Bruce and his wife, Merlene, were married Feb. 1, 1975. Bruce met Merlene in 1973 while she was working as a matron and secretary at the jail. "We'll do a little vacationing here and there, but this is still home for me, and our friends are here," Bruce said. In 1969, two young men, Tom Torrey and Bruce Lindke confidently took a magnificent personal challenge -- they dared to care about others.