San Diego Union-Tribune, The (CA) - May 25, 1995
Deceased Name: Michael Edward Tyler tough outer shell hid inner caring person
On the surface, in both appearance and tone, Michael Edward Tyler conveyed a certain pugnacity endemic to his urban East Coast roots.
It could be as misleading as it was real.
"That hard-core outer shell didn't tell the truth about the caring person inside," observed Rabbi Aaron Gottesman, a longtime friend.
Mr. Tyler, a retired captain in the San Diego Police Department, died of cancer Saturday at UCSD Medical Center. He was 57.
He retired after 32 years of police work in December 1992, moving with his wife, Judy, to Pierce, Okla., to pursue a dream worlds away from the teeming streets of Brooklyn and Queens, N.Y.
"We bought a 160-acre cattle ranch, starting it from scratch," said Judy Tyler.
Less than two years later in August 1994, his dream curtailed by the diagnosis of lymphatic cancer, Mr. Tyler returned to his home in Alpine and underwent treatment at UCSD Medical Center.
For 15 years, the Tylers owned and operated the equestrian-oriented Tyler's Feed and Hardware store in Alpine, an outlet from the stresses of police work that enabled Mr. Tyler to indulge two of his passions: his love of horses and kids.
He hired teen-agers to work at the store, treating them more as members of the family than employees.
During his own teen years, Mr. Tyler had been taken in by Josephine Colvell and her family in Queens, living there from age 13 to 18. His mother had died when he was young, and his working father had little time for parenting.
The unorthodox upbringing seemed to foster an enduring compassion in Mr. Tyler for teen-agers. And it was enhanced, it seemed, by his exposure in police work to youths who had turned to crime.
"Seeing all the kids in trouble on the street, Mike didn't want the kids who worked for him to have those kind of problems," said San Diego Police Capt. Lee Vaughn, a longtime friend and colleague.
"Capt. Tyler would discipline the teens he hired," he said, "but he would love them even harder. He was a sweetheart of a guy. He followed their careers for years later. He was a parent, friend, mentor and role model for them."
Mr. Tyler taught his two daughters, Kelly and Shannon, the fundamentals of horsemanship at a young age. He staged local horse shows. "He was a horse-show daddy," said his wife. "At times, we had five or six quarter horses and an appaloosa."
Mr. Tyler also was active in the Alpine community, serving 11 years on the Alpine Fire Board, six of them as president. And he belonged to the Alpine Kiwanis Club.
During a police career that culminated in his appointment as commanding officer of the Eastern Division, the San Diego Police Department's largest of seven divisions, he served in many capacities.
He was a motorcycle sergeant, a lieutenant in charge of criminal intelligence, a captain of personnel and a captain of Investigations III.
The latter, which encompassed narcotics, vice and criminal intelligence, "is probably the toughest job in the department, and he did it for four years," Vaughn said.
Mr. Tyler, who was born in Brooklyn, left New York after graduating from high school and served four years in the Navy. He settled in San Diego after his discharge, working briefly for a finance company before joining the police department.
He earned a degree in business administration from Chapman College in Orange and came within a few units of earning master's degrees in both psychology and sociology.
In addition to his wife of 32 years, he is survived by two daughters, Kelly Lynn Lange, of Mission Viejo, and Shannon Michele Tyler, of Rancho San Diego; and a sister, June Panter, of Mineola, N.Y.