MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A North Branch family is thanking the community for the support they received after the death of their son.
Ron Rollins is a North Branch police officer. His son, Tony, is a North Branch firefighter. Tony died in a car crash July 21. As Reg Chapman reports, it was the love and support for the community they both served that got the family through the toughest part of this journey.
The 10,000 people who call North Branch home are supporting a family that has served them for decades.
"Just a great response and sincere sympathy for loss of a firefighter, but also loss of a community member," said Chief Kevin Grote with North Branch Fire Department.
Tony was the department's safety captain. Chief Grote says he was great with kids and represented the department at community events.
"We've seen Tony grow up and when he was on the fire department, we actually worked side by side with him," said Chief Dan Meyer with North Branch Police Department.
Chief Meyer says losing Tony was devastating. Tony's Dad, Ron, was in his wedding and has served as a police officer in the community for 15 years – 40 years total in law enforcement.
"I've gone to many calls where I've dealt with families in this position, and I really feel that we've been blessed by the outpouring of support and love by our community that has come to really help us heal," Ron said.
He says his family was overwhelmed by the people who offered their support during Tony's funeral.
"When my son died, I was looking at just a small service – our family, our extended family – and here it turned out our extended family turned out to be hundreds and hundreds of people that came to celebrate his life," Ron said.
Ron says he and his family are thankful to the community that held them up when they felt like they were falling down.
"This community has been super, they've really pulled us through the major portion of our loss," Ron said.
After 40 years, Ron has announced his retirement from the North Branch Police Department. He plans to call it quits at the end of September to spend more family time with his wife and four daughters.
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