The Philadelphia police community is mourning the unexpected death of an officer who not only served the city through her job, but helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities.
Officer Michelle Winkis of the 26th district passed away last Saturday less than a week after she was stricken by a sudden illness. The former Michelle Soltys, a 42-year-old mother of three, served 23 years in the police department. In addition to her duties as a patrol cop, the 1989 Northeast High School graduate served as a board member and primary fundraiser for the non-profit Philadelphia Police and Fire Football Club, also known as the Blue Flame. In that capacity, she had helped the club contribute more than $250,000 to various charities since its 2003 founding.
Winkis remained on active duty and involved in the club until she became ill days before her death. She was one of the organizers of Monday’s tailgate party fundraiser at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 during the Philadelphia Eagles’ season-opening game. The event raised money for the Police Survivors’ Fund and the newly formed Police Sports Association.
Co-workers and friends have organized a benefit for Winkis’ children this Thursday, Sept. 12, from 6 to 10 p.m. at FOP Lodge 5, 11630 Caroline Road. Contributions to the Winkis Children Memorial Fund may be sent in care of the Police and Fire Federal Credit Union, 901 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19107.
“She did so much for so many. Let’s step up and give something back. Rest in peace, Michelle,” said Lodge 5 President John McNesby.
Viewings for Winkis will be held tonight, Wednesday, Sept. 11, from 5 to 8 p.m., and on Thursday, Sept. 12, from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at Life Celebrations by Givnish, 10975 Academy Road. A funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Anne’s Church, 2328 E. Lehigh Ave. ••