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I think now is a good time to rerun this post. There is a better path to follow, and we have to find it.
On a grey cold Sunday morning a Portland police officer was on his way to Northeast Precinct to begin his workday. At approximately 6:30 am his truck broke down on the freeway. He got out of the truck to analyze the problem and was struck and killed by a semi-truck. Officer Mark Zylawy died on that January 27, 2008 Sunday morning.
Officer Zylawy was born in Versailles, France. He went to high school in Missoula, Montana, and served the Portland Police Bureau as a district officer in Northeast Portland for 17 years. During that 17 year period Officer Zylawy received 30 commendations, two unit citations, and the Medal of Valor.
Mark Zylawy, his wife, and four children lived on their family farm located north of Portland in the State of Washington. The phrase “survived by” is a euphemism. Survived by meant that the Zylawy family lost a husband and father who would never come home again. His family will never again hear the metallic thud of his truck door as he closed it when he returned home from work. There will be one less place setting and one vacant chair at the dinner table. There will come a time when Mark will be remembered with laughter and not just tears when his family shares their recollections of Mark. I hope some of those bittersweet moments have already come to pass.
Officer Zylawy had two more families. They were the officers he served with and the citizens of Northeast Portland.
The residents of Northeast Portland called him the Z-Man. The Z-Man was their police officer. He belonged to them. The Portland Police Bureau wasn’t a monolithic agency of one thousand officers. Many of the residents of Northeast Portland regarded the Z-Man; Mark Zylawy; one officer; as the Portland Police Bureau. Respect for the Z-Man was also shared by those that Mark arrested: Some of them attended his memorial service. The Z-Man was held in high esteem in one the roughest areas of Portland.
To honor the Z-Man a group of police officers, private citizens, and the business community started the Z-Man Foundation. The Z-Man Foundation awards scholarships to outstanding students from lower-income families allowing them to choose from one of four private high schools in the Portland-Vancouver area; La Salle College Preparatory School; De La Salle North Catholic High School; Seton Catholic Preparatory School; and City Christian School. Z-Man scholars also have a police officer assigned to them that have volunteered to mentor them through their four years of high school.
The Z-Man Foundation motto is “It Starts With Me.” No matter who you are it does start with you.
Officer Mark Zylawy 10-79. This simple phrase was said at the end of his memorial service. 10-79 End of shift. I thought of all the times that I said 10-79 at the end of my shifts. A simple phrase said hundreds of times that in one moment became an epitaph for an outstanding police officer, husband, and father.
Officer Mark Zylawy 10-79, Rest In PeacePublished in