Christopher Wray
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Memorial Service for Supervisory Investigative Specialist Saul Tocker
Culpeper, Virginia
December 28, 2020

Remembering Investigative Specialist Saul Tocker

Remarks prepared for delivery.

On behalf of the entire FBI, it’s an honor to be here today to remember Saul.

Saul joined the Bureau in 1990, serving first as a security warder and then as a police officer at FBI Headquarters before joining the Washington Field Office’s Special Surveillance Group, SSG, in 1995. He served the bulk of his career there, most recently as a team coordinator and supervisory investigative specialist.

On September 11, when an all-hands call went out for assistance after the Pentagon was attacked, Saul didn’t hesitate to respond. He didn’t have to go, but he wanted to help. On 12-hour shifts, day in and day out, he sifted through debris.

Everyone at the FBI had one goal in mind on that tragic day: to make sure that nothing like that ever happened again. Saul shared that same sense of resolve.

And throughout Saul’s illness, even in its darkest days, he carried that same resolve with him. Resolve to be there for his family for as long as he could. To push forward with the utmost optimism.

In the past few years we have really begun to understand—and to witness—the long-term effects of the FBI’s work after 9/11 and the full extent of the sacrifices that our first responders made. We’ve lost far too many members of the FBI family due to 9/11-related illnesses. And we’re by no means alone. Our brothers and sisters in law enforcement, firefighting, and first response have also suffered devastating losses—and we all fear there are more to come.

So as we gather here today, we remember these selfless men and women, like Saul. And we take inspiration from their example and the sacrifices they heroically made for all of us.

I was fortunate to have a conversation with Saul in October. I was struck by how much he didn’t want to talk about himself, but about the others he was grateful for.

How much he’d loved the SSG mission, and how important it was that the younger folks learned to carry out that mission the right way.

How glad he was to have been part of something bigger than himself.

How grateful he was to the folks of our Human Resources Division for working to help victims of 9/11-related illnesses and their families.

How moved he was by the outpouring of support he and his family had experienced from his many colleagues.

And in talking to the people who knew Saul well, it’s clear they all felt incredibly lucky to call him a friend.

And for many of you in the FBI, he didn’t go by Saul; he went by “Seahawk”—a nickname that came easily at work because he was one of “the 12,” as the diehard Seattle Seahawks fans are known. The loudest, proudest fans in professional football. So loud, even, that they’ve been known to set off minor earthquakes.

It sounds like Saul—who even decorated for the holidays with a Seahawks-themed Christmas tree—would have fit right in at Lumen Field.

“Seahawk” was a big presence. A bear of a man. A guy who was very proud of handily completing the “Quaker Steak & Lube Triple Atomic Wings Challenge” with the t-shirt to prove it.

His teammates always found it amusing to watch that big, burly guy fold himself into the lotus position to climb into one of the smaller Bureau cars, like a tiny black Mustang.

Saul had warm laugh and a wicked sense of humor. He was quick-witted and clever. And had a big, megawatt smile—so much so that I’ve been told a lot of people doubted his teeth were even real.

Saul understood and valued the importance of teamwork and community. He was instrumental in bringing people together—not just at work, but at home, too. He was at the center of a very close-knit neighborhood.

By all accounts, the members of the Bureau’s SSG teams share a bond that is nothing short of incredible. I’ve heard that time and again. They become a type of family within the FBI family, and Saul’s SSG family was as close as they come.

His teammates said they could always rely on him for help. If you needed anything, if you were struggling, if you just needed to talk—Saul could put aside the burly, brusque, sarcastic Seahawk. He would really listen to you, and you could trust him.

He could be your biggest critic—always in the interest of helping you—and your staunchest ally.

To paraphrase an old saying, he had a way of telling someone to go to hell and have them look forward to the trip—or not.

His Bureau travels took him all across the country, from the Florida Keys to the tiny town of Manly, Alaska. And I have to believe those Bureau trips had an extra special meaning to Saul. In talking with his wife, Laurice, just last week, I learned that she was previously a travel agent for the Bureau. In fact, that’s how they met.

But of all Saul’s travels, his favorite were his trips to the Outer Banks, where he’d rent a huge house with as many family and friends as possible. That time together—especially with Laurice, and his kids, Zac and Rachel—meant the world to him. And I’m sure times like those are the memories so many of you hold dear.

There’s a beautiful Jewish poem about remembering those we’ve lost:

In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
we remember them.

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
we remember them.

In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,
we remember them.

In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
we remember them.

In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
we remember them.

In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
we remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength,
we remember them.

When we are lost and sick at heart,
we remember them.

When we have joys we yearn to share,
we remember them.

So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.

Today, we say goodbye to a beloved member of the FBI family gone too soon. But we’ll remember him, in ways big and small, from the sunrise to the rustling of the leaves. We’ll remember his laugh. His quick wit. His big smile. We’ll remember how good it felt to call him a colleague and a friend.

Laurice, Zac, and Rachel: We know you’ll remember him better than anyone. You’ll remember him as a devoted husband and a phenomenal father. We all thank you for sharing Saul with us for so many years. Please know that you, too, will always be part of the FBI family.

May your father’s memory be a blessing.