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Virginia's 'Sgt. Santa' dies at 84

A Virginia police detective who became Santa Claus to generations of poor children in Richmond's toughest neighborhoods has died.

Ricky Duling died Saturday after years of declining health. He was 84.

Duling was known throughout central Virginia as Sgt. Santa.

In 1973, the Richmond sergeant began dispensing toys, candy and other treats to children in the mean streets and housing projects where he worked many of his cases.

After retiring 22 years ago, the white-whiskered former undercover cop operated his one-man charity full time, donning a white-trimmed red costume with sergeant's chevrons on its sleeve.

He amassed a warehouse of donated gifts he took to needy children on Christmas eve, but never solicited contributions.

-- Associated Press

By Washington Post Editors  |  August 23, 2010; 4:46 PM ET
Categories:  Virginia  
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