By Paula Levine
Glen Park News staff writer
Michael Walsh, a Glen Park resident since 1983, passed away suddenly on July 2nd, leaving a tide of remembrances and a profound sense of loss among family, friends, colleagues and neighbors. Husband, father of four, active church member, a tenor in a local singing group called Oracle, Mike Walsh was a neighborhood anchor whose visible presence in his police car or on foot, jogging along the neighborhood streets, was a part of daily life in Glen Park.
In his quiet, steady manner, he stabilized the neighborhood, making himself available to any and all calls, questions, requests about safety, law, politics and or stories about the history of our community. As a writer for the Glen Park News, his regular column, On The Beat allowed us to see our familiar streets through the lens of one who knew the streets both as a San Francisco native and as a policeman focusing on issues and concerns of safety, security and stability.
Mike Walsh was a San Francisco Police officer working out of the Ingleside Station. There he was a Training Officer, working with re-entry police officers and recent graduates from the Police Academy bridging between the classroom and the streets. He had also worked as a School Resource Officer in the past, working with children and their families, and he continued as an officer with a specialty in juvenile issues. Officer Walsh was a familiar sight on the school campus, according to officers interviewed at the Ingleside Station, successful in what he did because, “he had a talent that allowed him to talk to anyone.”
“He wasn’t the typical police officer,” one Sergeant said, “he wasn’t ready to put the hammer down; he would work with [people].”
One of the things that made Mike an atypical policeman was his decision to switch from businessman to cop around the age of 40. He, his wife Flo and their children lived in Glen Park for years before Mike made the career change from the printing business to police officer, a choice made possible thanks to a successful anti-discrimination suit against the Police Department in the 1980’s that eliminated the cap of 35 years old for new applicants to the force.
When asked his thoughts on why Mike made the switch, Lieutenant Plyer, Officer Walsh’s first supervisor, replied,” Mike felt the call. He was drawn to it. Some people have a calling to be a painter or a priest. Mike wanted to be a cop. Mike’s grandfather had been a police officer and Mike grew up around cops. He wanted to serve.”
“Mike brought all of his life experiences to the job.” said one Ingleside officer, ” He was the gentle bear; the one with the cool head and the calm demeanor. When officers had problems, they would come to Mike and he would work with them to get through it. He was never dismissive. He would be patient, listen and then explain the situation and talk about it.”
Henrik Ibsen wrote, “A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed” and President Obama reflected that our strength as a nation has depended “… on our sense of mutual regard for each other, of mutual responsibility.” “…there are some things we can’t do on our own…” President Obama continued, “We know that there are some things we do better together.”
It’s that rich compilation of daily deeds and mutual contributions that forge a strong community, one that becomes a composite of the unique in the ordinary. Shaped by individual efforts to extend what we know, our local success depends on our willingness to offer time, patience and kindness to people around us on a daily basis; in our homes, on our streets and in our neighborhoods.
Mike did all that and this is why his passing makes daily life here in Glen Park so much more difficult. Now we have to find a way to do what we normally do, and that much more.
To see a video of Officer Walsh when he was named Officer of the Month at Ingleside station, please go to