Officer Greg Koss stood tall in the Coon Rapids Police Department, not only because he was 6 feet 5 but because for 31 years as a patrol officer he was a mentor and friend to many on the force and brought a servant’s heart to the job.

“He was one of the best officers I have ever known. He brought a kind heart, he brought a listener’s ear,” said Police Chief Brad Wise about Koss at a recent Coon Rapids City Council meeting. “He was exactly what you’d hope for in a police officer serving your community.”

Flags in Coon Rapids were flown at half-staff after Koss collapsed and died Aug. 17 at his girlfriend’s home in Ramsey while he was getting ready for work. He was 53.

Koss was born in Sheboygan, Wis., and moved to Minnesota when he was 3. He graduated from Blaine High School in 1985 and joined the Coon Rapids Police Department three years later as a community service officer. He became a full-time police officer in 1991.

Koss often spoke at community events such as National Night Out and events for kids. He served on the department’s drug task force, bike patrol and was a firearms instructor. He also served as a deputy with the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office at the county courthouse.

“He was the guy who could do anything out there,” said Coon Rapids Patrol Capt. Bill Steiner.

But Koss’ colleagues said he left his biggest mark by sharing his professionalism with the officers who came up behind him.

“They looked at him as an example on how to do their jobs,” said Steiner, who was trained by Koss. “He set an example and did not cut corners. He made new people feel welcome.”

Koss excelled as an officer because he had great negotiation skills and used a firm hand only when absolutely necessary, Wise said.

“Greg really liked serving the community,” said his brother, Derek, of Ramsey. “He always wanted to stay on the streets versus in-the-office work.”

If there was a crash or trouble in the neighborhood, Koss was the officer you wanted to show up, said City Council Member Steve Wells.

Koss was devoted to his family, especially his children, Lauren and Noah, said his mother, Sharon, of Ramsey.

“Greg never wanted to miss their baseball games, hockey games, volleyball and their school activities,” she said.

Koss’ son soon will follow in his father’s footsteps. Noah Koss recently graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato and was hired as a police officer by the Mankato Police Department. He will start work Tuesday.

Koss played baseball and was on a traveling hockey team during high school. After school, he continued his love for sports by playing on police department teams and in church leagues at Anoka Covenant Church, family members said.

He also found time to pursue his two passions, fishing and hunting. He looked forward to fishing trips to Canada with his police friends and in recent years fishing with his brother on Lake Michigan. He enjoyed hunting with buddies in Colorado, his mother said.

Koss was a man of a faith, his mother said. He went to Anoka Covenant Church as a teen and in later years attended Eagle Brook Church, where he was involved in a small group, his mother said.

Besides his children, mother and brother, Koss is survived by his former wife, Jill Salo, of Minneapolis, and girlfriend, Shannon Potter, of Ramsey. Services have been held.