To his colleagues and friends on the Davenport Police Department, Sgt. Kevin Marxen always was known as “Rudy.”
The nickname came from the movie of the same name about the Notre Dame football walk-on who gave everything he had for the betterment of the team and not for personal gain, Asst. Police Chief Don Schaeffer said.
“Rudy personified the four Cs,” Schaeffer said of both the football player and Marxen. “Those are courage, character, contribution and commitment.”
Police departments throughout the Quad-Cities on Wednesday were mourning the loss of Marxen, 57, who died Tuesday from an apparent heart attack while on his his routine four-mile run.
It was Marxen’s day off, Schaeffer said. “He stuck his head into the second shift’s briefing and wished everyone a safe tour of duty and took off,” Schaeffer added.
Marxen collapsed on the Iowa-bound Centennial Bridge walkway at 3:29 p.m. and was taken to Trinity Rock Island, where he died.
Marxen was remembered by friends and colleagues, some from other police departments, as a man whose word was his bond and who always had a smile on his face.
“I knew him the whole 36 years he was here,” Schaeffer said. “He worked for me directly for over half his career. I had him in the detective bureau, in street crimes, buying dope for me during drug investigations. There’s nothing I haven’t had him doing.
“Not once in all that time have I ever seen him in a bad mood,” Schaeffer said. “He meant a lot to everybody. I don’t think I can say enough about him as a father, a husband, a great co-worker, a police officer, and as a member of the community.”
Police Chief Frank Donchez, who has been head of the department for six years, said that when he started the job, his first ride around the city was with Marxen.
“He was the first guy I got to know,” Donchez said. “He was in the Tactical Operations Bureau and he took me around the city to the places where all the action was going on. We rode on a Saturday night and you talk about a guy who knew the ends and outs of gangs and the vice and the street crimes. His knowledge of the job was phenomenal.”
Marxen was instrumental in starting the Emergency Services Team, what many people call SWAT, Schaeffer said.
Retired Davenport Police Capt. David Struckman said he was stunned by the news. To him, him Marxen was like Peter Pan, who would never get old and always be there.
“He never sought notoriety,” Struckman said. “His actions spoke for him. I watched him grow up in the police department and he gave you 125 percent of himself 125 percent of the time. He was a true professional, without a doubt. It’s going to take a while for this to sink in. We have lost a tremendous officer and a tremendous person.”
Get news headlines sent daily to your inbox
Coal Valley Police Chief Mark Poulos, a longtime Rock Island police officer, said that he often worked with Marxen and other Davenport officers as a result of the bridges that connect the two cities.
“He had integrity,” Poulos said. “If Kevin told you something, you just took it to the bank. That was it."
The Davenport City Council held a moment of silence in Marxen's honor during the Committee of the Whole meeting Wednesday.
Marxen comes from a family of police officers. His brother, Tom, retired as a captain from the Moline Police Department, while his brother, John, retired from the Scott County Sheriff’s Department.
Donchez said that Marxen was as a great mentor, teacher and coach to younger officers.
"Kevin will live on in this department for a long time to come because the knowledge that he passed on to these young officers will keep them safe for years and years to come,” Donchez said.