–by Mary Helen Darah
PUBLICATION DATE: Feb 05, 2019

Officer Bill Tollison, right, looks forward to relaxing and spending time with his family after retiring from a career with the Sylvania Township Police Dept. that began in 1974, photo on the left. Tollison also served as an arson investigator. Chief Michael Ramm of the Sylvania Township Fire Dept. states, “It’s like losing a good friend. It’s a huge loss for us.”

Upon asking Sylvania Township Officer Bill Tollison if he is enjoying his recent retirement he responded, “It’s been 28 days.” I was surprised the hours and minutes were not attached to that statement. Officer Tollison officially retired Dec. 31, 2018, after 44 years of service. Tollison had dreams of being a Michigan State Trooper since the age of 14. “I can remember driving to the Erie Post weekly when I was 16 years old,” he stated. “They had a cadet program where you were in uniform and worked in their office. We lived on Sterns Rd. so it was not a short drive. I bet I went back 15 times to fill out an application card. I was very determined. The sergeant at the Michigan State Police Department recognized me one day and told me that the program was being phased out. Thankfully he saved me from additional road trips.”
Although his dream of being a state trooper did not materialize, Tollison joined the Sylvania Township Police Department in 1974 as a part-time dispatcher. “My brother was also on the force. He told me that I better take the dispatcher job,” recalled Tollison. “I was 19 years old. It was a bit intimidating. I took the dispatcher job because I was too young to go on the road. I was hesitant because I was so young. At that time, we dispatched not only the police but also the fire department as well. I was in there alone. I began being on the road in July of 1976 and ended my years of service in that capacity.”
When Tollison was asked what he remembered most from his years of service, he responded, “How do you sum up 44 years? Actually, I had to take three years off because I was hit on 475, near Corey Road. A suspect was wanted for murder after shooting someone in the face. The state police started chasing him. I attempted to stop the suspect, which resulted in him running into me. He was going 100 mph. I was going 80 mph. I now have rods and screws in my lower back. I thought about retiring some time ago. I guess I always liked the job. It’s that thrill of every day being different. I don’t like the same ‘ho-hum.’ It’s tough to retire with the excellent leadership we have but I leave knowing both the police and the fire departments are in good hands.”
A memorable career moment for Tollison was when he received the Star Life Award along with others who were at the scene attempting to save the life of a young man who was electrocuted. “The young man worked for a radio station,” stated Tollison. “It was in the spring when the grass was soft. The radio crew put the tower up. He went inside to speak to someone at the live on-air location. The truck must have shifted and when doing so touched the power lines. He touched the truck and was electrocuted. We didn’t think he was going to make it but surprisingly he did. That was one of many experiences over the years when you realize that you are not the one in control.”
Another memorable experience from his last year of service occurred while driving near Huntington Farms. “I heard a radio call of a possible drowning on Marshall Rd. and I was on Marshall,” recalled Tollison. “I went because I could literally be at the house in seconds. The call stated that there was a woman drowning in a pool. When I got to the scene, I found a 70-year-old woman trying to hold up a drowning woman who appeared to be in her 40s. I jumped in and tried to get her out of the pool but it was dead weight. I couldn’t lift her up but I was able to get by the ladder. I had her in my arms and somehow I got my foot up on the bottom rung to balance her on my knee and was able to do chest compressions. She started to come to but she was still unconsciousness. A city of Sylvania police officer came and both of us couldn’t get her out. Finally, another officer arrived and the three of us were able to get her out of the pool. Apparently, she had a seizure while in the water. I couldn’t believe she made it. Once again, I had the feeling of not being in control. It’s as if someone puts you in that right spot at the right time.”
The retired officer plans on spending time with family and friends and traveling. He recently ordered a sheriff’s uniform, which means his time out of uniform will be short-lived. “I’m just going to take it easy,” stated Tollison. “I’m planning on helping out the sheriff’s department and relaxing. It feels like I am on one very long vacation. Looking back, it’s all about enjoying what you do.”