Remembering former Shelton Police Chief Bob White

Former Police Chief Bob White
Former Police Chief Bob White

The city is mourning the death of former Police Chief Robert E. White, who served 32 years with the Shelton Police Department.

Bob White, 71, died on Oct. 20. The Shelton resident headed the city’s Police Department from 1992 in 1998.

A U.S. Navy veteran, he had been named Connecticut Policeman of the Year in 1996.

“He was a man of honor, respect and integrity with a deep devotion to God,” his family said.

The wake will be Thursday at Riverview Funeral Home in Shelton, and the memorial service is Friday at St. Margaret Mary Church in Shelton (see details at the end of this article).

“Hopefully all those who met him can take a moment to recall some of your common stories and smile,” family members said. “A good man has passed.”

‘My boss and my friend’

Current Police Chief Joel Hurliman served on the force with White. “He was my boss and my friend,” Hurliman said. “He was a great sportsman as well as a great policeman.”

Hurliman said he would go fishing and target shooting with White. After White’s retirement, they also would see each other at the local American Legion post.

The conversation often turned to fishing. “He liked fresh and salt water,” Hurliman said. “He was really big on the Housatonic River.”

Headed police youth bureau

White moved to Shelton in 1955 and was sworn in as a Shelton police officer on Feb. 7, 1966. He then worked as a patrolman, head of the youth bureau, detective, sergeant, lieutenant and captain before being named chief.

“To all those who got to know him through his work as a truant officer, he never saw you as a delinquent but as himself — someone needing a chance,” his family said of his many years working closely with youth as a police officer.

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White was a youth sports coach, assisting youngsters in basketball, football and soccer. “All of his teams were much like him — they played hard, within the limits of the rules, and always to win,” his family said.

In the immediate aftermath of having a kidney removed, family members recalled, he still made it to almost all his sons’ youth sports games.

He also was active with many local nonprofit groups. He volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley, Derby/Shelton Memorial Day Committee, Umbrella Group, Shelton Youth Bureau, and many other organizations.

Avid outdoorsman, Navy veteran

White was an avid sportsman, participating in activities such as archery, basketball, boating, bungee jumping, fishing, football, hiking, hunting, parachuting, sailing, shotgun and bow shooting, softball, snow skiing, surfing, and water skiing.

As a player in local adult basketball leagues, he became known as “The Hammer.” As an archer, he won first place in state competitions several times.

He was a member of Sutter-Terlizzi American Legion Post No. 16 in Shelton. After serving five years in the Navy, he worked at Sikorsky building helicopters before joining the Police Department.

Loved to travel

White loved to travel, visiting 49 states and many countries across Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. He had a fondness for many U.S. national parks and Civil War battlefields. He also liked to go camping and go on cruises.

“He was so happy to bring back some sand from Omaha Beach to his father,” his family said of a trip to Normandy in France.

White was active at St. Margaret Mary’s Church in Shelton, and had served on the parish council.

“He was very proud of the Shelton community and Lafayette [School] kids always held a special place in his heart,” his family said.

Survivors and services

Survivors include his wife of 51 years, Sandra Viggiano White; two children, Robert White and Keith White; four grandchildren, Alexa, Brady, Emma and Victoria; two brothers, James White and Martin White; a sister, Georgianna White; and several nieces and nephews.

The wake is Thursday, Oct. 24 from 3-7 p.m. at the Riverview Funeral Home, 390 River Road, Shelton. The funeral is Friday, Oct. 25 at 11 a.m. at St. Margaret Mary Church, 50 Donovan Lane, Shelton. Burial will follow at Riverside Cemetery.

Memorial contributions can be made to St. Margaret Mary Church, 50 Donovan Lane, Shelton, CT 06484, or to Closer to Free (in support of Dr. Mario Sznol cancer research), P.O. Box 7611, New Haven CT 06519-0611.

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