Officer Manny Ortiz’s family: ‘He was our protector’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – Officer Manuel “Manny” Ortiz was honored by his family and friends at a memorial service Friday. They said he was a man who loved and was loved in return.

At the podium, Ortiz’s childhood friend, Ray Mayoliz, reflected on the final conversation he had with Ortiz.

“He said to me life is too short. He said life is too short. Not knowing that just over a month later he was no longer with us,” said Mayoliz.

Ortiz’s children said their dad always made them smile even in the worst situations.

“Anyone who knew my father knew the warmth and happiness he brought with him everywhere, that’s when I knew I was home,” said his daughter, Sophia.

His son, Alejandro, shared something his father told him. “Like my dad always said before he passed, ‘When I’m gone, make sure you’re the man of the house and take care of your mother and sister.’ Dad knows that’s what I intend to do,” Alejandro said.

His oldest daughter, Solangee McNeal, who is also the mother of his two grandchildren, said she didn’t really lose her dad.

“Every time you get knocked down physically, emotionally, mentally and you get back up, my dad is there with you,” McNeal said.

Ortiz’s fiance, Lisa Kehoe, said she’s been trying to find the words to describe how she’s been feeling all week, but she just can’t.

“Manny was a remarkable man. He was our protector, he was the love of my life, and the world to his children. Moving forward I don’t know how we’re going to begin to fill the void that he has left. We will honor his life by helping others the way that he did,” Kehoe said.

Ortiz’s friend from the Rochester Police Department, Sergeant Sammie Drayton Jr. said Ortiz would do anything for anyone. At Friday’s service he left the crowd with this: “In closing, as Manny would say at the end of our phone conversations, ‘Okay papa, I’m gonna let you go, bye-bye papa.'”

Mayor Lovely Warren presented Ortiz’s family with a key to the city. A Rochester Police Department award was also created in his honor, the Manuel “Manny” Ortiz Community Policing Award.

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