SOUTH BEND — The day Al DeRoo joined the city's police department, Kennedy was still in the White House, Studebaker was still churning out cars and a band called The Beatles had yet to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
Today, 47 years, 9 months and 13 days after he joined the South Bend Police Department, DeRoo stepped down as the longest-serving officer in department history.
"I didn't have any idea I'd be here this long," DeRoo said. "But when 20 years came around, I thought I'd do this just a little longer, and the same at 30."
DeRoo, who retires as a sergeant in the detective bureau, says there are very few jobs at the department he hasn't had.
In the '60s, when boating on the St. Joseph River was popular, DeRoo spent the weekends cruising the water in a department-issued speed boat. He worked in the traffic division, both as a beat officer and behind a radar gun.
DeRoo said some of his most memorable moments came from when he worked in the juvenile division, as a school resource officer, a job that he said let him impact hundreds of kids.
In maybe his most famous case, as an investigator of missing people, DeRoo and patrol Cpl. Ron Glon uncovered the bodies of two men in an old industrial electrical vault.
That discovery led to the discovery of the bodies of two more men hidden nearby in what would come to be known as the "manhole murders."
DeRoo said he was simply investigating the disappearance of two homeless men, and had asked Glon to show him an area where the corporal had earlier arrested one of the men for stealing scrap metal.
"If we hadn't gone and looked, those men would probably still be down there," DeRoo said.
Although DeRoo said the job of a police officer is stressful, he helped avoid burnout by learning early in his career that confrontation wasn't always the best approach.
Instead, DeRoo said, he liked to talk to people and tried to gain their trust before exposing the lies in their stories. As a detective, he had a natural inquisitiveness that drew him into each case.
Because he loved his job and the friends he found at the department, DeRoo said the thought of accepting a pension and leaving early never crossed his mind, even as most of the officers hired in his era have since left the force.
It didn't hurt, he said, that working security at Notre Dame football and basketball games helped him to meet a lot of famous people, whose autographs now line his basement walls.
Before joining the department at the age of 30, DeRoo worked at South Bend's Continental Millwork for four years, after four years of serving in the U.S. Navy.
DeRoo, a graduate of Mishawaka High School, met his wife Betty Lou, a graduate of South Bend's Central High, while both were students. They married while he was in the Navy, and they raised three daughters.
"All he's ever wanted was to be a police officer," Betty Lou said.
But now, with retirement official — the Board of Public Safety approved his retirement this morning and by lunch he had been presented with a key to the city of South Bend — DeRoo says he's sure they'll find a way to spend their time.
With four grandkids and three great-grandkids, DeRoo said he expects to travel and relax.
"I've always loved working here," DeRoo said. "I hate to have to go."