Gentle is not an adjective often used to describe career police sergeants, but that kind of spirit was how Edward J. Rizoli lived his life and carried out his work, his friends and family said Saturday.
In a funeral mass at, Mr. Rizoli, a 42-year retired officer for the Milford Police Department, was remembered as a hard-worker, who held down several jobs to provide for his family, and as someone who had compassion for people.
"In the spirit of gentleness, that word means being of the people," said the Rev. Richard Scioli, pastor at Sacred Heart, whose parents knew Mr. Rizoli well. "He had that quality. It was really who he was. It refelected in his whole life."
Mr. Rizoli, an officer and then sergeant in Milford, his hometown, died Monday following a period of declining health, according to an obituary provided by Edwards Memorial Funeral Home. He retired from the police department in 1976, and was among the department's longest-serving officers.
Mr. Rizoli, who was 100, retained his sense of humor about aging, said his son, Richard Rizoli, despite some decreased mobility in recent years. "He said, 'After 96, it's all downhill from here'."
Rizoli described his father as a "rock" for the family, and a provider "in its quintessential form." His own father had died when he was a child, and he had to quit school to help support his family. As a man, he worked two to three jobs, in addition to his police duties, his son said.
"He wore that badge as an honor," Richard Rizoli said.
Several dozen uniformed police officers attended the funeral services, which included an honor guard escort.