George F. Maher of East Meadow was a quiet man who left his mark on the Nassau County Police Department.

He formed its Hostage Negotiation Team in 1974, the second such team in the nation after New York City. He designed and oversaw the construction of the police memorial next to police headquarters in Mineola.

And he created the Police Museum inside police headquarters.

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Maher died June 17 at age 86, more than 20 years after he retired as the department's chief of operations, the highest-ranking uniformed position at the time.

"One of his greatest attributes was his humility," Chief of Department Steven Skrynecki said in an interview. "He was a self-effacing individual -- very confident and quiet, and yet very determined and successful in everything he did."

Maher was born in Astoria, Queens, and as a youngster moved with his family to Floral Park. He attended Sewanhaka High School and enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduation. He served as an aircraft mechanic and was honorably discharged in 1947.

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He worked at the Fairfield Corp. in Farmingdale before joining the police department on May 1, 1951. He retired in 1992 after 41 years of service under seven police commissioners.

While working as a foot patrol officer in Fifth Precinct he met Eileen Fielder, who worked in a local department store, and they married in 1953. They moved to East Meadow in 1958.

He returned to school and eventually graduated from Nassau Community College, receiving a bachelor of arts degree from Adelphi and a master of professional studies in criminal justice from Long Island University in 1980.

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"He said after the marriage that it was time for him to get more education," Eileen Maher said. "He rose up through the ranks. When they had a [promotion] test, he took it, but it wasn't something that he had to do."

He also served as commanding officer of the Robbery Squad, chief of detectives and chief of headquarters. He was an unofficial historian of the department and donated many of his police-related photographs to the Police Museum, which is named in his honor.

"Chief Maher was known as one of the most progressive and innovative leaders in our department history," the department said in a statement.

He was just as quiet at home as he was at work, his wife said. "He loved his garden. He loved his books. He would be reading three or four books at a time," she said.

"Every day he made a list of things to do -- and they got done," she said.

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He was also a licensed pilot but had not flown for years, she said.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by sons Joseph of Baldwin and Matthew of East Meadow; and a brother, Philip, of Levittown.

A Mass of Christian Burial was held June 20 at St. Raphael's Roman Catholic Church in East Meadow, followed by interment at Pinelawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Farmingdale.