Gregory A. "Willie" Eads Sr., a retired Baltimore police officer who attained the rank of colonel during a career that spanned more than three decades, died June 30 from pancreatic cancer at his Catonsville home.
He was 61.
The son of an Arundel Corp. worker and a funeral home hairdresser, Gregory Augustus Eads Sr., was born in Baltimore and raised in the 800 block of Ostend St., in South Baltimore.
After graduating in 1970 from Merganthaler Vocational-Technical High School, he worked at the Cross Street Market and at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point plant, before joining the Police Department in 1972.
Mr. Eads began his career as a patrolman in 1974 in the Northern District and in 1980 was promoted to the Northwestern District, where he was in the office of the chief of patrol.
From 1984 to 1989, when he was promoted to sergeant in the Southwestern District, Mr. Eads was in the Criminal Investigation Division.
Promoted to a lieutenant, Mr. Eads joined the department's Criminal Investigations Bureau in 1994. He later held assignments in the Western District.
In 2001, Commissioner Edward T. Norris promoted Mr. Eads to major, giving him the responsibility of overseeing half of the Criminal Investigations Division's detectives who handled robberies, shootings and burglaries.
Mr. Eads replaced Maj. Elfago Moye in 2002 as commander of the Eastern District, and a year later was assigned to the detective division.
He was promoted to colonel in 2003 and retired two years later.
Mr. Eads was a strong believer in the police interacting with the community. In a 1999 interview with The Baltimore Sun, he said, "Continued partnership and a team-effort approach with citizens reduces crime and has a positive effect on the quality-of-life issues in the community."
When Commissioner Norris proposed in 2000 putting more officers on the streets in high-crime areas to reduce violence, Mr. Eads echoed the commissioner's tough stance.
"If you are working in a problem area, you will not allow anyone to loiter on the corner," Mr. Eads told his officers at the time, as reported in a 2000 Baltimore Sun article. "If they don't believe you, send them to [the city jail]. If they get out, we lock them up again."
"He was as fine a gentleman as you'd ever want to meet. As a cop, he set a certain tone," said Lynnwood M. Taylor, a cousin who lives in Lansdowne.
"Willie was the first of many men in our family who presently serve in law enforcement. Because of his example, Willie was followed into law enforcement by numerous nephews and cousins who now 'Protect and Serve,' on the Baltimore City and Baltimore County police departments, Towson University and the U.S. Postal Service," said Mr. Taylor.
Because of his father, Gregory A. Eads Jr. joined the Baltimore Police Department in 1992, and is assigned to the bomb squad.
"He was my inspiration to go into the department. Early on when I was a little boy, I watched him stop and get out of his car to help a blind man cross the street," said Mr. Eads who lives in Catonsville.
"My father's compassion inspired me. It was a life lesson. He always led by example and he wanted to be a good cop," he said. "He used to say, the 'only thing you own is your integrity.' He was a very moral and ethical person. He was the ultimate professional."
Mr. Eads was somewhat apprehensive about his father's reputation when he joined the department.
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"I told him I had some pretty big shoes to fill, and he said, 'Fill your own shoes,'" his son said.
After retiring from the Police Department, Mr. Eads worked for four years in the Baltimore City sheriff's office. At his death, he was working as an investigator for the Maryland State Lottery Commission.
Mr. Eads enjoyed cooking — and was known for his expertise in preparing fish dishes — playing pinochle and sitting and socializing with friends and family in what he called his "Gentleman's Quarters," in his garage.
A 33rd Degree Mason, Mr. Eads was a member of Corinthian Lodge No. 62, where he was worshipful master, Jerusalem Temple No. 4 and Hira, Consistory No. 2.
Funeral services will be held 10:45 a.m. Monday at Star of Bethlehem Spiritual Temple of Church of Christ, 1301 W. Fayette St.
In addition to his son, Mr. Eads is survived by his wife of 16 years, the former Bonnetta Cox, a state correctional officer; another son, JaQuan Eads of Catonsville; a daughter, Cheree "Precious" Eads of Baltimore; three stepdaughters, Cornelia Wilkes and Nicole Sissoko, both of Baltimore, and Lynette Monk of Woodlawn; four sisters, Darlene Jefferson and Charlene Blanchard, both of Baltimore, Barbara Sutton of Catonsville, and Star Wilkins of Randallstown; 16 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His marriage to the former Linda Wallace ended in divorce.