Damon Paul Gerber, a retired Baltimore County Police Department captain who founded its police dog unit, died of multiple organ failure Wednesday at Harmony Hall in Columbia. The former Mount Airy and Lansdowne resident was 87.
Born in Sykesville and raised in an orphanage, he was a welder at the Bethlehem Steel shipyard during World War II. He then joined the Baltimore County Police Department and served for many years at its Wilkens Avenue precinct.
A 1969 News American article, written when a new police dog training facility opened, said the center "grew out of the vision of Capt. Damon P. Gerber, who was the county's first K-9 corpsman." The article said he originated the idea for the unit in the late 1950s.
Family members said he went everywhere with a German shepherd named Duke, his first police dog. He retired from the department in 1975.
"He loved his dogs, and he loved his cats, too," said a nephew-in-law, Rick Farrow of Ellicott City.
After retirement, he opened Case Welding and made ornamental handrails and other metal products.
Mr. Gerber enjoyed football and was a Baltimore Colts season ticket holder. He was also a vegetable gardener and shared his produce with his church, family and friends.
"He enjoyed tinkering in his workshop," Mr. Farrow said. "He was always there to lend a helping hand to others whenever needed."
Mr. Gerber was a member of Liberty Baptist Church in Lisbon and had earlier belonged to Crossroads Nazarene Church, where he was a board member.
Services will be held at noon Friday at the Haight Funeral Home, 6416 Sykesville Road in Sykesville.
Survivors include his wife of 65 years, the former Violet Mae Spurrier; a daughter, Darlene Gerber of Parkton; and a niece and a nephew.