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Roger Rountree Sr.

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When Roger Rountree Sr. joined the Austin Police Department in 1948, patrol cars had no air conditioning, and officers wore wool uniforms.

But he loved his job and worked for the department for 35 years before he retired as a lieutenant.

Rountree, 82, died Tuesday at his Round Rock home after a series of strokes.

"He died in my mother's arms," said his son, Roger Rountree Jr.

Rountree's life pursuits went from hunting for his own food during the Depression to tracking down criminals to searching for golf balls in his retirement.

Born in San Antonio, Rountree spent a lot of time in Llano, where he and his brother often had to go hunting for their dinner, Rountree's son said.

He went to Austin High School but joined the military before graduation. As an aerial gunner fighting in Africa during World War II, Rountree flew numerous combat missions, his son said.

The experience changed him.

"He never flew on a plane after that," Roger Rountree Jr. said.

After Rountree joined the police department, he served on the vice squad, was a forgery detective and then became lieutenant of the homicide unit. Before he retired, he also was the director of public information.

"He was the driver of Lady Bird Johnson whenever she came to town and told me one time he was driving her when she chose the location for the LBJ library," Roger Rountree Jr. said.

Retired Deputy Chief Don Doyle Sr. said he began working with Rountree in 1955.

"He was very well-liked and conscientious," Doyle said. "He tried to gain the public's confidence and respected the people he worked with."

After he retired, Rountree became passionate about golf and played with a large group of friends. He also loved children and spent a lot of time with his grandchildren, his son said.

In addition to his son, Rountree is survived by his wife, Laverne Rountree of Round Rock; ; his daughter, Robin Frane of Austin and six grandchildren.

Services will be at 2 p.m. Monday at Cook-Walden Funeral Home at 6100 N. Lamar Blvd.

[email protected]; 445-3871

Published in Austin American-Statesman on Dec. 27, 2003
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