If you ever met former police patrolman Francis O’Loughlin, you would have thought you knew him your entire life — he personified the Irish cop on the beat, had the gift of gab, and just as concerned about the people and families on his watch as he was his own family.
He rose to the rank of sergeant at the St Augustine Police Department during more than 20 years of service, and, in 1981 he ran for, and was elected, sheriff of St Johns County. He served one four-year term before retiring from law enforcement.
Until recently, although aided by a walker, he continued to meet his friends for coffee at McDonald’s. He use to meet former patrolmen for “choir practice” at Longhorn, and stayed current on issues that affected our community.
“He never expected his officers to do anything he wouldn’t do,” St. Augustine Police Commander Steve Fricke told local reporters today. “He took pride in the service aspect of law enforcement.”
Historic City News editor Michael Gold, who remembers O’Loughlin from the years when he was a deputy sheriff, recalled that Francis would always roll on calls that might give others pause.
“Francis was the first officer on the scene the afternoon that Athalia Ponsell Lindsley was murdered,” Gold said. “He was truly a peace officer — would just as soon walk a beat; which he often did, stopping in the doorway to every store, remembering everyone’s name, knowing when something or someone was out of place, and always had a laugh for you before it was time to say goodbye.”
O’Loughlin died late this morning at the age of 76. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.