Kenneth Ray Dunn
(28 Dec 1948 - 1 Sep 2000)
Transferred from PA XIII
Kenny (on right) with Kelly & Karen and Ken Forbes,
Kenneth R. Dunn
By Jonathan Jones, Staff Writer September 02, 2000 DOWNINGTOWN -- Police Chief Kenneth Ray Dunn died at his home Friday morning after a long battle with cancer.
According to borough Secretary-Treasurer Anthony Gambale, the police department will be implementing many of the projects initiated by Dunn in his honor and memory. "It was pretty hard not to like Kenny. Downingtown will certainly feel the loss," said Gambale, who worked with Dunn for more than 24 years. "He was highly respected by everyone who met him. He was always honest and forthright." Gambale said one of Dunn's important accomplishments as chief was dealing with the "awful lot of work" left for him after former Chief Daniel Heliker retired on short notice.
Caln Police Chief James Franciscus said Dunn was always ready to help other police officers. "He was a good guy," Franciscus said."He cared about his community, about his officers, and about the people of Downingtown. He was a good friend, a good policeman, and good human being. He will be missed." West Chester Police Chief Scott Bohn said Dunn was "extremely dedicated" to Downingtown and served compassionately. "He was a strong advocate for citizens and individuals," Bohn said."He will be sorely missed." Borough council Vice President James M. Bruton said the police department really looked up to Dunn as a leader and was inspired by his dedication during his illness.
As police chief, Dunn often said he never had a desire to work anywhere else. "Once you're in an area for a length of time, you've got your time invested and you're part of the community," Dunn said shortly after being appointed chief. "Downingtown is a good place to work, it's a nice town and a lot of great things are in store for the borough."
Dunn, an avid hunter, fisherman, golfer and motorcyclist, graduated from Downingtown High School after moving to the area from New Hampshire when his parents' pastry company was bought out by Pepperidge Farms. While attending West Chester University as an elementary education major, he met, and later married, his wife, Karen, in 1983. They have two children, Stephen, 23, and Kelly, 15. It was between semesters at WCU that Dunn took the test to be a policeman and was hired by the Downingtown Police Department.
According to Stephen Dunn, his father has been preparing his potential successors in order to ensure that everything was "done properly." "He ran a tight ship," Stephen Dunn said. "He was loved by everybody, his family, his department, especially the Blue Knights (an international law enforcement motorcycle club)."
As chief, Dunn said he was deeply concerned about the number of traffic accidents and drug abuse in the borough, as well as balancing the needs of the officers with what he was able to deliver as an administrator.
"You have to think about manpower, the budget and look at the big picture," Dunn once said. "The (officers) on the shift, taking calls it's real easy to forget about them. But you can't forget where you came from."
A viewing is scheduled for Tuesday at the James Terry Funeral Home at 6 p.m. Funeral services are scheduled for Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Grove United Methodist Church.
Students of East Ward Elementary School stood outside of the school on Washington Avenue, waving blue ribbons as the procession honored the veteran officer. His involvement in the fire department was commemorated as a modern and a classic fire truck decorated with flowers from the Minquis Fire Company drove towards Grove United Methodist Church. An honor guard made up of state police officers stood at attention as the procession entered the church parking lot. This long procession of friends, family and colleagues is representative of the long and intense memories that many have of Dunn, or "Kenny" Dunn, as many referred to him.
Zeke Osborne, former police chief of the Downingtown Police Department from 1952 to 1985, remembers when Dunn first joined the police department 31 years ago. "I knew he was going to make a good police officer -- he was interested, willing to learn and cooperated one hundred percent," Osborne said, who has also been the chaplain for the Chester County Chiefs of Police Association for the past 20 years.
Dunn had graduated from Downingtown High School in 1966 and then went on to West Chester University, where he majored in elementary education. While attending college, Dunn spent some time working at Pepperidge Farms in Downingtown. Bill Mason, a Downingtown borough council member, remembers working with Dunn in the Downingtown plant almost 30 years ago and described Dunn’s passing as a "great loss" to the community. Ironically, Dunn moved to Downingtown in the early 1960s from New Hampshire as a teenager, when his parents’ pastry company was bought out by Pepperidge Farms. It was between semesters at WCU that Dunn took the test to be a policeman and was hired by the Downingtown Police Department.
Lt. Stephen Meachum of the West Whiteland Police Department, who was one year ahead of him in high school, commented on the fact that Dunn was just as generous with his time and energy as a teenager as he was as an adult. "Kenny has never changed," Meachum said. "You couldn't’t ask for a better friend, a better police officer, he was just one great individual." Coatesville Police Chief Michael McMahon, who took over the spot about two and a half years ago, couldn't’t agree more about Dunn’s generosity and helpfulness. "He was very helpful to me since I have been here," McMahon said. "I would call him up with questions and concerns and he gave me the benefit of his experience -- he was a true gentleman."
Sharing his expertise and life experience not only spread to his peers but also to the youth of the Downingtown community.
"He was a good role model for everybody," said A.J. Groff, another one of Stephen Dunn’s friends. "He cared about the people and what was going on with drugs and other problems in the community."
Dunn was also a member of the Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club. Being the international treasurer of the club for the past several years, he was remembered fondly by one member. Mike Dolly, a police officer in Yeadon Borough, Delaware County for the past 28 years, has been on many cross-country motorcycle club trips with Dunn. Last summer’s trip to Colorado brought a grateful memory to Dolly’s mind. "Last summer he was suffering from cancer and couldn't’t ride back from Colorado and flew instead," Dolly remembered. "He recognized my wife, Mary Lou, in the airport," Dolly said, explaining that his wife was having some trouble finding her connecting flight. "If it wasn’t for Kenny, she would have missed her flight," Dolly said.
The above two articles are reprinted with permission from the Daily Local News, West Chester, Pa.