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Originally published Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 7:35 PM

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Thousands salute slain trooper's smile, dedication to community

Slain State Patrol Trooper Tony Radulescu never had to wonder if his life made a difference, said some of the people who attended his memorial service Thursday at ShoWare Center in Kent.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Gone, but never, ever forgotten. RIP WSP 557, Trooper Tony. MORE
A fitting tribute to a, by all indications, great trooper and just a plain great guy. ... MORE
Blessings to the Radulescu family and the beautiful tribute from law enforcement. ... MORE

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Of course there was that trademark thousand-kilowatt smile, but Tony Radulescu will also be remembered for his love of people, his sense of humor and his unshakable belief that his work made a difference.

That was made clear Thursday during the slain State Patrol trooper's memorial service, which drew hundreds of law-enforcement officers from around the United States and Canada to Kent's ShoWare Center.

"He really believed that his work did matter," said State Patrol Capt. Steve Sutton, touching on a theme repeated by several speakers. "He felt that every drunk driver he took off the road really did mean a life saved."

"Many people wonder an entire lifetime whether or not they made a difference," said State Patrol Chief John Batiste. "As a soldier and a trooper, Tony never had to wonder about that."

Radulescu, 44, was killed Feb. 23 during a traffic stop in Gorst, Kitsap County. His killer, identified by authorities as Joshua Jearl Blake, fatally shot himself a few hours later as deputies closed in.

Radulescu was the embodiment of the "classic American story," said Gov. Chris Gregoire. A native of Romania, he immigrated to the U.S. with his father when he was a teenager. He served eight years in the Army before he was discharged and decided to stay in the Pacific Northwest.

He spent 16 years with the State Patrol, all in Kitsap County.

Calling Radulescu "one of my own," an emotional Gregoire said that he had once served on her security detail. "Tony gave his life, protecting you, protecting me, protecting every Washingtonian," she said.

Radulescu was a onetime Trooper of the Year in Kitsap County and was honored by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers because of his number of DUI arrests. He was also remembered as a frequent volunteer to speak at schools or work at community events, eager to talk to others about the job of a trooper.

Batiste said Radulescu took seriously the State Patrol oath of "service with humility" when he graduated from the law-enforcement agency's academy.

Gina Miller, Radulescu's girlfriend, spoke of his love of cars, watches, Pez candy dispensers and the former New Jersey resident's excitement when the New York Giants won the Super Bowl last month.

She and Radulescu were supposed to grow old together, she said. They were supposed to have "walker races and cane fights."

But, "On Feb. 23, 2012, a horrific act of evil and cowardice took the life of your hero and protector and took my love, my hero, my protector, my Tony," she said, breaking down.

Radulescu's 22-year-old son, Army medic Erick Radulescu, read the Mary Elizabeth Frye poem "Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep," which ends, "Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there; I did not die."

"He's with us right now and he will be forever," said Erick Radulescu, who is considering joining the State Patrol to honor his father.

The memorial service was preceded by a somber procession of an estimated 700 emergency vehicles that wound from Silverdale in Kitsap County to the ShoWare Center. Hundreds lined the route to pay tribune to Radulescu, many saluting or holding their hand over their heart as the procession slowly passed.

Six people have been arrested in connection with Radulescu's death, charged with rendering criminal assistance for helping Blake after the shooting. All are in Kitsap County Jail.

Radulescu is the 27th State Patrol trooper to be killed while on duty. The most recent was James Saunders, 31, who was shot during a traffic stop in 1999 in Pasco. His killer was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

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