Scroll to the bottom to read tributes to Robert Sasagi
Wollongong Police constable Robert Sasagi nodded and gave a “yes boss” the first two times his superior encouraged him to go for a promotion. But when the subject arose a third time, he shut it down.
“He said ... ‘you just don’t get it boss; I am just happy doing what I do’,” Deputy Commissioner Regional NSW Field Operations Gary Worboys recalled on Friday.
“His personable nature would have opened many, many doors, however … he derived great pleasure from being part of a general duties team and working the front line, night and day.
“He was so, so committed to family and friends and helping people that … promotion really didn’t interest him.
“That’s something I will take from this good man. There’s much, much more to life than worrying about promotions or money or a whole range of things.”
After 22 years in the force, Robert Lawrence James Sasagi, a father of four from Austinmer, was promoted to senior constable only last Friday, the same day he succumbed to a cancer of the stomach diagnosed two and a half years earlier. He was 53.
On Friday Deputy Commissioner Worboys was among the top brass in Wollongong for Sen Con Sasagi’s funeral.
Never mind rank, Sen Con Sasagi – more often called Sausage – was afforded a full police funeral, complete with a bagpipe-led honour guard and march through cordoned-off Wollongong streets.
With the Polair chopper poised for a low, end-of-service flyover, the procession wound from the city’s police station to the Salvation Army Citadel, where friend and colleague Sergeant Bob Minns pulled the march to a halt on the street outside before offering a salute to Sen Con Sasagi’s wife, Kathryn Bailey.
“We’re here to honour Rob … and the good bloke that he was,” he said, loudly.
Friday’s service gave hundreds of police colleagues insight into Sen Con Sasagi’s out-of-work life as part of a big, Samoan family.
A montage of photos showed him cracking a wide smile, nestled between his children, behind a bucket of KFC, on the dance floor.
“He was a pretty good singer, and a great dancer”, Mrs Bailey told the crowd.
“He made an excellent sponge cake. He could fall asleep instantly, especially on trains ... He was excellent at washing up. He was exceptionally bad at woodwork and DIY. If he said he would do it later, he probably wouldn't. ... his number one belief was: family is everything."
Sen Con Sasagi’s sister, Angelique Sasagi, told the crowd her brother was a Samoan chief. “He was a proud Samoan. He was proud to be a Sasagi, I know we pushed him to the limit sometimes, but he was our chief. “
The photo montage showed Sen Con Sasagi growing thin in recent years.
When doctors told him had two years left to live, he set out to make the most of the time. Colleagues and friends raised more than $100,000 to help him tackle his bucket list, which included a tour of European battlefields.
Detective Senior Constable Scott Nicholls remembered his friend as “exceptionally intelligent”, “a good listener” and “a voice of reason”. “Rob was an exceptional police officer with skills that allowed him to communicate with all walks of life,” he said.
Sen Con Sasagi agreed to a charity golf day in his name, on the condition the proceeds go to Legacy, Det Nicholls said.
He was too sick to attend by the time the event came around, last month, and had his friend read his apologies.
“I don't know what I've done to deserve friends in the community like this,” he said. “If I don't get a chance to see you in person, I'll see you on the flip side.”
Your tributes to Robert
So sad RIP you died a hero to humanity. Janet Selby, Albion Park
Dear Rob. It saddens me to hear that you are no longer with us mate, but I am releaved that you are now at peace. I will miss our morning discussions about our belovered Parramatta Eels. In those famous Pellegrini words ‘usual coffee Rob’ I will endeavour to continue this legacy in your honour mate. Always remembered. Denis & Dave, (Bar Pellegrini) Keiraville
Our lives are so much enhanced having had you on that jouney as a workmate more importantly as a bloody great friend and human being. Sincere condolences to all your family. You were so brave, may you rest in eternal peace my friend. Paul Davidson Primbee
Thank you for all that you did for our region. My thoughts are with your loved ones. Mandy, Mt Warrigal
Our Thoughts are with Robert and his Family. We are all proud and grateful for Roberts service in the force. May he rest in peace and watch over us in another life ❤ Alex Breslin, Coniston
RIP MATE, AND BIG THANK U TO ALL MEN IN BLUE SAM, WARILLA
You were a terrific mentor to the junior troops. RIP Good man. Vito Gaudiosi, Dapto
I remember when he got the bravery award in 2005. Well deserved, but that was Rob. Worked GDs with him a few times. Will be sadly missed Dave M, Figtree
A true gentleman and a genuine man. It was a pleasure to know you and work alongside you. You will be missed Sausage. Fly high xx Sharon Johnson, Nichols Hunter Valley
I didn’t know you but as a retired cop, I dip my hat to you.....RIP Spike McCallum, North Avoca Beach
Sad news. prayers to all family members. John Stephenson, Tarrawanna
Blessed are Gods children go in peace.He will always protect his family from cop Heaven Susan Caruana, Ipswich Queensland.
Oh Rob! Pete Theodore, Woonona
A brave protector gone to rest !! Sleep in peace in His arms and suffer no more Vincent de Vos, Oak Flats
RIP Rob. A great shamrock lost. A pleasure to have had u as mate Adam Potter, Shamrocks
A good man Norman, Woonona
Had the pleasure of working with Rob at Redfern many years ago always a bright light whatever shade the rest of the world seemed. Thanks Rob Barry Wright, Ulladulla
Hi Kathy.....very sorry indeed to hear of your loss Dic Morgan, Camden Town, London
So sad and so proud. Loved your family and loyal to your brother and sisters in arms. Uncle Fraser, Sue and Paris Perth, Western Australia
You were a top bloke and you will be missed. Rest easy mate Aiden, Dapto
RIP Robert xx Jo. Mahssen, Shell Cove
Nephew you are now at the card table in the sky with our beloved aiga who have passed. Keep an eye on their sleight of hand eh? Alofa atu Aunty Tina Aunty Tina, Melbourne
Malo le tau. Malo le toa. Manuia lau malaga Robert. Alofa atu julienne and ted. Julienne Johnston, Hillsborough
Deepest sympathy to your family. Thank you for all you did. Heather Tweedie, Coffs Harbour
I understand the feeling which is close to my heart. Lovely too get to do these things. Thinking of you and your family. Maureen Stephenson, Woonona
Fate whispers to the Warrior, " You can not withstand the Storm" The Warrior Whispers back I am The Storm; you will be sadly missed my cousin, but never forgotten, Arohanui. Ringo Rissetto,West Auckland, New Zealand
Alofa atu Rob, e manuia lou malaga Rest in Love Michael Mau'u, Glen Eden New Zealand
Rest in Peace and Love Cuz Robert. Timu. Auvaa .Tito, Blacktown
The world will be a quieter place without your smile, heart and friendship, you were a true Argonaut in my life thank you for your freindship. Doug Ringhoff, NSW
May you rest in peace my old Redfern mate. Loved your sense of humour & everything about you. Fly high my friend. Lesley Townsend, Redfern
RIP Rob I didn’t know you personally but you touched my heart,my sincere condolences to your wife and children,family ,friends, and your other family the police. Roslyn Colyton
Truly one of the best. The sun shines a little less brightly knowing you have gone. Sending our love to Kath and the family. Tracey Lee Gallant, Currumbin Valley, Qld
Rob you were a funny guy a great friend and true team mate our time on the field and off will never be forgotten ... A real hero, a spirited warrior and always an Argonaut forever your memory will be treasured ... Rest in peace Brother Mick Renfrey Yorke, Peninsula, SA
Afio mai le Toa Afio mai le Gafa tasi o Samoa atoa Lau Afioga Robert Sasagi Fuimaono Ta'ala Manuia le Malaga. Alofa tele atu xoxo Leia & Susan Fereti /Fuimaono Leia Fereti-Fuimaono Urangan, Queensland
RIP cuz Robert Sasagi.Manuia lau malaga. Tessa n Aleni Letele-Sasagi, Minchinbury