By Tim Hadac
Southwest Chicago Post
Ronald Wallace Sr., a former longtime Back of the Yards
A Tinley Park resident for the last four years, Mr. Wallace and his family lived for many years near 48th and Damen, according to his daughter, Angela MacMillan.
He grew up in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood near 63rd and Troy, attending Marquette Elementary School and Harper High School. Several years after high school and after a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps, he became a police officer in 1967. He served in some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods and CHA developments, including Cabrini Green, Robert Taylor Homes, Stateway Gardens and others.
“My dad worked a beat, but he also worked in an undercover unit against drug dealers,” his daughter recalled. “So you’d see him with a beard, looking tough like a biker. It was funny. He’d drive us to school and other kids would see this intimidating guy and ask, ‘That’s your dad?’ They didn’t know he looked that way because of his undercover work.”
The hard edge to his life was changed forever when, as a young husband, he experienced a spiritual awakening, his daughter added. He found a Bible in a trash can, which led to a conversion not only for him but his wife, Carmen.
The brighter side of his personality flourished, including a quick wit and a good sense of humor that he used to bring joy to others. He enjoyed playing the role of Officer Friendly with young children in the neighborhoods he served. He also played the harmonica and typically bought extras to give away and encourage others to discover the joy of music.
“My dad was a real double-edged sword,” his daughter recalled. “He was a good-hearted man, a fun man, a unique man; yet he was dead serious when it came to police work and protecting others.”
One woman touched by Mr. Wallace’s protective goodness was former Brighton Park resident Donna Marquez, who said that he saved her life and the lives of her children from her abusive ex-husband.
“He saved my life and the lives of my two children in 1989,” she recalled. “He was my angel, and he protected us from a horrific night of violence… there was a butcher knife to my throat. My babies were only 1 and 2 years young.
“Officer Ron's wife was my prayer partner at the time,” she continued. “We attended the same church, so the first one I thought of calling was Officer Ron. For six years I had kept the domestic violence a secret from my family. When my ex went into another room, I was able to make the call that would save me that night.
“There was no cell phone back then,” Marquez added, “but Officer Ron knew just what to do to help get me out of the house. I listened to every word he said. I ran for my life out of that apartment. Long story short, Officer Ron and his wife came immediately and got the babies and put us in hiding and safety. They will always be my heroes.”
Mr. Wallace retired from CPD in 2000.
In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by his son, Ronald Jr. (Cindy); grandchildren, Natasha and Tatiana Wallace, Teddy Golab and Connor MacMillan; and other relatives and friends.
A memorial service will be held in March.
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