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HomeBreaking NewsFormer Pewaukee Chief Raising Money for New Tombstone Honoring George Schmidling, 1st...

Former Pewaukee Chief Raising Money for New Tombstone Honoring George Schmidling, 1st Waukesha Officer Killed in Line of Duty

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If you want to help Gary Bach with the monument’s costs, you can email him at [email protected]. We’ve known Gary Bach for years, back when he was a Pewaukee police chief, and we can vouch for him.

To retired Pewaukee Chief Gary Bach, slain Waukesha police Detective George Schmidling is more than a name on a gravestone. Schmidling was Bach’s uncle.

Schmidling, a Navy veteran and married father of three, was shot to death in 1961 when Bach was 12, becoming the first Waukesha police officer killed in the line of duty. Bach, who was himself a police officer for 28 years, retiring as Pewaukee’s chief, retains memories of Schmidling that burns strong today.

“George was probably one of the greatest individuals I’ll ever remember,” Bach says. “He was a great dad, a great husband. He was an entertainer.”

George schmidling
George schmidling

Today Bach has made it his mission to better honor Schmidling where he rests; the officer is buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Pewaukee, but his tombstone is aging badly, almost unreadable, and it doesn’t make his ultimate sacrifice clear. Bach is trying to raise $3,800 to give Schmidling a proper memorial monument at the cemetery. The monument would say, “City of Waukesha Police Detective George Schmidling, killed in the line of duty,” and it would include his picture and a “spiritual note,” said Bach, replacing the more simple and deteriorating stone that is there now.

We learned about Bach’s effort when he made a comment about it on our Facebook page. We contacted him and asked if we could do a story, which he appreciated.

George schmidling
Gary bach

The recognition for Schmidling at the cemetery is currently “terrible,” said Bach. “It’s a little flat stone. There is no information on it in terms of him being a police officer. I want to make it right. That’s what I am doing now. This is the least I can do.”

It has bothered Bach for years that Schmidling’s current stone does not make his sacrifice clear. It is not a proper way to honor him, he believes. Schmidling is one of only two City of Waukesha Police Officers to die in the line of duty; the other was Capt. James Lutz in 1994. (There are several other Waukesha County law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty as well.)

“It’s mattered to me ever since I went up and looked at the stone, which was many years ago,” Bach told Wisconsin Right Now in an interview. “I always said I need to do something to make this right.”

At the end of the day, Bach said, “Every police officer who dies didn’t expect to die. They did it through the drive to do the right thing in their job and unfortunately suffered the consequences of that. Your life is always at risk, and, when that happens, society needs to pay you back in some form. You deserve that.”

George schmidling
Det. Schmidling’s grave

Bach also wants Schmidling’s kids, great-grandkids, and grandkids to see a new monument.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Bach.

Bach said a ceremony will be held when the new monument is obtained. The City of Waukesha and probably the Village of Pewaukee will have honor guards and all who donate will be invited.

After Schmidling’s death, his widow and three children went through great struggles, said Bach. The kids now live down south.

Bach says law enforcement was a “family tradition.” His father worked for the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department, and other relatives became officers as well.

“We would go to his house, and I remember laughing all the time,” Bach says of Schmidling. “He would take us out roller skating. When he would come to our house, he was always full of energy.”

He said Schmidling was an officer who showed great empathy. For a period of time, he said, Schmidling was “one of the old Waukesha motorcycle cops,” riding a three-wheeler cycle.

George schmidling

According to Bach, Schmidling was slain when he thought he was stopping a robbery in progress at an old Waukesha restaurant. He was shot five times and then run over. He managed to shoot and kill one of the assailants.

The City of Waukesha does have a public safety memorial in that city that also honors first responders who died in the line of duty. However, Bach believes Schmidling also deserves to be properly memorialized in the spot where he rests.

In addition to Schmidling and Capt. Lutz, the other names on the memorial are firefighters:

“George was the first City of Waukesha police officer killed in the line of duty,” said Bach. “He left behind three small kids.”

The City’s website gives this information about Schmidling’s heroism:

“Detective Schmidling located three subjects from a burglary that he was investigating in a downtown Waukesha restaurant. As they left the restaurant, he confronted them and requested that they go with him to the Waukesha Police Department.

He patted the three down and got into the front passenger seat of their car. One of the two suspects in the backseat drew a handgun that he had hidden in between the seat cushions and pointed it at Schmidling.

Schmidling grabbed the barrel of the gun but was shot once in the chest and once in the shoulder. Detective Schmidling returned fire from his duty revolver fatally wounding the shooter and then mortally wounding the driver who was attempting to draw a gun.

Detective Schmidling then opened the passenger door to escape and rolled out of the vehicle onto the roadway. Detective Schmidling served the Waukesha Police Department for six years and in the United States Navy before that. He was survived by his wife and three children.”

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