Walter Haas, a former Nassau County police inspector from Lynbrook who earned his accounting degree while on the force, died of cancer Tuesday surrounded by his family at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre. He was 69.
Haas served 38 years on the police force before retiring in 2003, his daughter Laura Greene of Rockville Centre said.
He was born in Richmond Hill, Queens, and his family moved to Lynbrook when he was a boy. After a short stint in the Army, he returned to Lynbrook to raise his own family.
His widow, Ruth, said he was called by the police department when he was discharged from the Army and opted to join the force. He moved up the ranks and earned his accounting degree from Marywood University in Scranton, Pa., when he headed the department's internal auditing division, she said.
"You will not find anyone in this agency that will have any ill will about Walter Haas," said Nassau Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey, who said Haas was his captain when he was a sergeant. "He was the consummate gentleman, extremely competent at every assignment he had."
Greene said, "My dad was very much a by-the-book person. You do the right thing because that's the right thing to do."
Ruth Haas added, "He had a strong moral character. He believed in things and he gave his opinion on things even if they didn't follow what the politically correct thoughts were."
Walter Haas enjoyed gardening, reading, researching various subjects and boating, his family said. He was a member of the Hewlett Point Yacht Club. After retiring, he did people's taxes for them, Ruth Haas said.
"He was a quiet, gentle man. He didn't tout his abilities," she said.
Besides his wife and daughter, he is survived by son Peter of Astoria; daughter Elizabeth Cavanaugh of Rockville Centre; sisters Jeanette Sharkey of Lynbrook and Karen Claridge of Florida; and two grandchildren. Another son, Walter Jr., died in 1993.
A wake will be held Thursday and Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Flinch & Bruns Funeral Home in Lynbrook. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 9 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Peace Roman Catholic Church in Lynbrook followed by burial at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for contributions to the Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center.