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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Security detail included 5 presidents

Security detail included 5 presidents

About The Tribune-Review

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OBIT, obits, Obituary: Joseph Start Tweet

By Adam Wagner

Published: Monday, June 18, 2012, 11:48 p.m.

Updated 14 hours ago

Joseph Start knew in 1959 that the Soviet Union would lose the Cold War.

Mr. Start was part of Nikita Khruschev’s security detail when the Soviet Union leader visited Pittsburgh. When Khruschev walked down the aisle for his keynote speech, though, all Mr. Smart could hear was the squeaking of his shoes.

“My dad always said he knew then that they weren’t going to make it technologically. If you can’t make shoes, how can you make rockets?” said his son, Jay Start of Vandergrift.

Joseph J. Start of Sewickley, a retired Allegheny County Police detective, died on Saturday, June 16, 2012, at his home. He was 91.

Mr. Start’s family said he lived the kind of life that always gave him a story to tell.

After serving in the Army Air Corps for 31⁄2 years, he returned to Sewickley and began working as a county detective in 1947, embarking on a 28-year career. During that time, Mr. Start worked on the security details for Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

“His sons were very impressed with the stories he told them,” said Sue Start, Mr. Start’s wife of 63 years.

One of them occurred in 1948, when Mr. Start’s partner accidentally shot him in the back.

Mr. Start and his future wife got to know each other better while he recovered from his wound. She was one of the nurses who helped care for him.

“We carried on a friendship afterward,” she said. “I would go visit him while he was recuperating.”

Mr. Start’s recovery did not take long, though, and he was back on the job only one week after being shot.

The bullet remained with him, though, as doctors initially deemed it impossible to remove because it lodged near Mr. Start’s heart. Decades later, a surgeon who confused the bullet for a cyst removed it.

Mr. Start ascended to captain of the homicide unit in the 1960s, a role in which he often was interviewed by local media.

Jay Start remembered his father and he attending a Steelers game in 1969 — a ritual the two kept until Jay left for college — when his father received an emergency message, telling him that police had tracked down a suspect wanted for killing a police officer.

Mr. Start hustled his son into the car, loaded the M1 carbine he had in the trunk and told him: “You’re going to have to come with me. We got Stanley.”

“Here we were flying up Route 28, and my eyes were as big as saucers!” Jay Start said. The alert, though, was a false alarm, but it was a memory that Jay said he won’t forget.

Despite Mr. Start’s active professional life, his family remembered him as the kind of father who made it to every Little League game and chorus concert —even if it meant returning to work afterward.

“He lived life to its fullest, everything he did,” Jay Start said. “He was a good man, and I had no complaints. He was a great dad, and he’d do anything for his grandkids.”

In addition to his wife, Sue, and son, Jay, Mr. Start is survived by his son, Dr. Jefrey Start of Erie, and 10 grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. today in Richard D. Cole Funeral Home in Sewickley. Interment will follow in St. James Cemetery, Sewickley.

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