PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Loved ones will say their final farewell to a former Philadelphia police officer and well-known journalist on Tuesday. Tom Gibbons, a long-time reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, died last week after a short battle with brain cancer.

Before life as a journalist, Gibbons was a member of Philadelphia’s elite highway patrol unit through the 1960s, working in high-crime neighborhoods until he was shot in August of 1970.

“”He probably should have died then,” said Mike Chitwood, Upper Darby Police Superintendent and long-time friend of Gibbons. “But there was a surgeon who had just gotten back from Vietnam who was used to war injuries, which Tom had.

“Tommy and I on an arrest became friends,” Chitwood said, “and I am going back 50 years ago.”

Gibbons retired from the police force on disability in the early 1970’s. He began work as a reporter for the Evening Bulletin and the Inquirer, mostly covering crime stories.

“The thing that always amazed me about Tommy is any time he had to write a story about a police officer, it took a piece of his soul,” Chitwood said.

Gibbons was 73 years old.

“He will be truly missed by me as a friend,” Chitwood said, “and the ultimate professional.”

A funeral mass will be held Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. at Maternity BVM Church in Northeast Philadelphia.

Kristen Johanson