Joseph A. Hasara Jr., 64, of Lower Gwynedd, a retired Philadelphia police officer, died of cancer Saturday, Dec. 26, at home.

Born in Hazleton, Pa., Mr. Hasara was reared in the Juniata Park section of Philadelphia and graduated from Northeast Catholic High School for Boys.

He served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War era - he was stationed in Thailand and at bases in the United States - and rose to the rank of sergeant.

After leaving the military, Mr. Hasara joined the Philadelphia police force, where he spent five years as a patrol officer and 15 years as a detective.

During his time on the force, Mr. Hasara worked on many high-profile crimes, and in the homicide, major crimes, and fugitive task force divisions, said his wife of 42 years, Katherine Dubek Hasara.

Once he retired from the force, Mr. Hasara became tactical commander for the University of Pennsylvania's police force, responsible for all firearms and tactics training. He also developed, equipped, trained, and maintained an emergency response team.

Most recently, Mr. Hasara worked for the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, spending nine years supervising a team of special agents assigned to the Gun Violence Task Force.

"He was passionate about his job," his wife said. "He loved it, and he couldn't see himself doing anything else. His whole life was service."

Mr. Hasara was a mentor to many during his long career in law enforcement. He was also a member of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 and St. Anthony of Padua Church in Ambler.

In his spare time, he and his wife loved to dance - ballroom, West Coast swing, hustle. He delighted in his granddaughters, 6 and 9, to whom he was "Poppy."

"He was so pleasant; he always had a smile," Katherine Hasara said. "He was a gentleman."

Growing up in Bridesburg, not far from Mr. Hasara's family's home, Katherine Hasara often saw him at his girlfriend's house, and knew his sister.

Once he broke up with his girlfriend, Mrs. Hasara saw an opening. When Mr. Hasara was home on leave from the military, the two met up. They were engaged after three dates.

"He said, 'I'm going to marry you,' " she recalled. And he did.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Hasara is survived by daughter Christin Krey, two granddaughters, and a sister.

Friends may call Tuesday, Dec. 29, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Emil J. Ciavarelli Family Funeral Homes and Crematory, 951 E. Butler Pike, Ambler, and from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 30, at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 259 Forest Ave., Ambler, where a Funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m.

Burial will be private.

Donations may be made to the FOP Survivors Fund, 11630 Caroline Rd., Philadelphia 19154.

215-854-5146@newskag