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Officer Bob Panos found dead in home
Bob Panos, a 16-year Ceres Police Department reserve officer known for his friendly personality, was found dead in his home yesterday.

Panos, 52, had finished his night shift at 1 a.m. Tuesday and went to his nearby home on Magnolia Street. When he failed to show up for his next shift at 8 a.m., an officer made a courtesy call to his home and made the discovery.

The Sheriff's Department is handling an investigation as unattended death. Officials said there was nothing suspicious at the scene. Panos had been in great health. An autopsy will determine the cause of death but natural causes are suspected.

Panos was honored in March as the "Reserve Police Officer of the Year." After a stint as a Turlock Police reserve officer, Panos joined Ceres Police in October 1992. He retired from his job with Stanislaus County Social Services in January 2006 to work for Ceres on a full-time basis. Panos didn't get the benefits nor top pay regular officers get but he enjoyed working to help out with the shortage of officers, said Police Chief Art deWerk. Panos was always willing to help out where he was needed. He was known for his smile and never complained, added deWerk.

"Bob got along with all members of the community," said deWerk. "He was very well liked and very well respected. It will absolutely be a serious loss for this agency and the community. He always had a kind word to say. Just a very caring person."

DeWerk said Panos was instrumental as a "stabilizing force" in settling public safety issues several years ago at the Ceres Flea Market.

Survivors include his daughter, Katie Hill, who is a Ceres Police records clerk; and his son, Jason Panos, an ensign with the Navy. He also leaves behind his sister, Arlene Diaz; and his girlfriend, Audrey Henry.