Steve Gutsch arrived at work as a sergeant with the Mill Valley Police Department with the same positive attitude that allowed him to enjoy the night shift and that caught the attention of a hairdresser who would later become his wife.

Det. Sgt. Paul Rapp, who was finishing up as Gutsch arrived for the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift last Friday, remembered him being "his normal happy-go-lucky self."

The next day, the Petaluma father and 8-year veteran of the Mill Valley department died of cardiac failure as he slept at his Petaluma home. He was 43.

Gutsch was born Dec. 14, 1967 in Santa Rosa to Rudolph and Marcia Gutsch. He studied at Rincon Valley Junior High School and graduated from Santa Rosa High in 1986.

He worked as a cabinet maker for Pacific Hardwood Cabinetry and as a manager for Creative Cabinets.

In April 2003, Gutsch was sworn in as an officer with the Mill Valley Police Department. He was promoted to corporal in 2006 and sergeant on on Christmas Day last year. He also ran the department's field training officer program.

"He was always early into work, getting a jump on his shift, never hesitating to go the extra mile in a case," Rapp said.

Gutsch, whose first marriage ended in divorce, met his wife of more than four years, Susan Gutsch, seven years ago when mutual friends suggested he go to the Novato hair stylist for a haircut.

"He has an incredibly calm nature and I was instantly comfortable talking to him," she said.

They both have two children, and Gutsch loved bringing the whole group to Lake Berryessa to ride on a Sea-Doo, a large jet ski. It was "a way that he could do something with all the children, because there are so many different ages," his wife said.

In addition to his wife, Gutsch is survived by a large Santa Rosa family, including his son, Hayden Gutsch; daughter, Jordan Gutsch; step-son, Alex Raabe; step-daughter, Amanda Davis; as well as his father, Paul Gutsch; brothers Jeff and Mike Gutsch; and his sisters, Michelle Bennett and Lyndi Dannewitz.

A service will be held at 10 a.m. July 16 at Daniels Chapel of the Roses, 1225 Sonoma Ave., Santa Rosa. Burial will follow at the Calvary Catholic Cemetery, 2930 Bennett Valley Road.

Memorial donations may be made to the Gutsch Family Assistance Fund, care of the Mill Valley Police Officer's Association, 1 Hamilton Dr., Mill Valley, Calif. 94941.