In 2002, after serving in the Suffolk County Parks Department for 33 years, Robert W. Deshler retired. For three days.

What made him return?

“I like the people I work with and the county has been good to me. I will stay as long as I can,” said the 76-year-old Shirley resident, who was recognized on Oct. 2 by the Suffolk County Legislature for what has now been 50 years of service to the county. 

Deshler was also recently honored by the Suffolk County Police Conference and Suffolk County Parks.

Deshler graduated from William Floyd High School in 1962 and then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps until 1966. He started his career with Suffolk County by joining the Sheriff’s Department in 1969 before transitioning to the newly formed Suffolk County Park Rangers.

Deshler, who has an office at Southaven County Park, where he supervises personnel and “does most of the paperwork,” recalled playing in that same park as a youngster.

“I like being out in the public and being able to assist in the public in any way I could.”

Following the TWA Flight 800 crash, Deshler help to secure the scene.

During his time as a park ranger, Deshler started the first mounted unit, through which he patrolled parks on horseback until the unit was disbanded. When the park rangers transitioned into the parks police, Deshler began patrolling parks in the newly formed ATV unit and became an instructor for the Central Pine Barrens Law Enforcement Council.  

“During his 50 years of continuous service to the residents of Suffolk County, Sergeant Deshler has worked from one end of the island to the other,” Suffolk Legis. Rudy Sunderman said in a statement. “From patrolling the parks and saving lives, to securing the scene at the TWA Flight 800 tragedy, Sergeant Deshler is best known as the friendly neighborhood Park Ranger. I thank him for his 50 years of service.”

Above: Sgt. Robert W. Deshler, center, and his family join Legislator Rudy Sunderman, right, in recognition of his 50 years of service to Suffolk County.