Robert L. Tatum Sr., 79, of Camden, who retired in 1992 as a detective lieutenant in the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, died of heart problems Saturday, March 14, at Cooper University Hospital in Camden.

Born in Camden, Mr. Tatum graduated from Camden High School in 1954 and earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice at Glassboro State College in 1981, daughter Donna Drummonds said.

He was a Camden City police officer from 1960 to 1977, serving for a time as a detective sergeant, she said.

Mr. Tatum then moved to the Prosecutor's Office, working as a detective from 1977 to 1992 and rising to lieutenant in its major crimes unit.

Robert Belcher, who retired from the Drug Enforcement Administration at the end of 2014, recalled working as an investigator with Mr. Tatum from 1982 to 1985.

In Belcher's first job after college, Mr. Tatum acted as a mentor. "He was a very kind and conscientious guy," he said.

"One of Bob's strong attributes was his ability to talk to people, to gain information that could lead to arrests," Belcher said. "He made people comfortable.

"It was not just a job. It was a passion. He really cared about the community."

And, Belcher recalled, "it was with Bob's urging that I moved on to the federal level."

Belcher said he contacted Mr. Tatum three weeks ago to tell him, "Thanks for your support and guidance."

Mr. Tatum, his daughter said, "was a quiet person."

"He was dedicated and committed to doing a good job," she said. "If he said he was going to do something, he didn't quit until it was done."

Besides his daughter, Mr. Tatum is survived by his wife of 59 years, Margaret; son Robert L. Jr., daughter Maggie a brother; three sisters; eight grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

A viewing was set from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, March 21, at Tenth Street Baptist Church, 1860 S. Tenth St., Camden, before an 11 a.m. funeral there.

Condolences may be offered to the family at www.boydfuneralservices.com.

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