Robert H. Stimelski, `A Cop's Cop'

Posted: April 22, 1996

Robert H. Stimelski, 55, who retired as Collingswood's police chief in January after a 28-year career in law enforcement, died yesterday at his Westmont home.

Born and raised in Camden, Mr. Stimelski was a 1959 graduate of the former St. Joseph's High School in Camden, where he was on the football team. He had resided in Westmont for the last 20 years.

Mr. Stimelski was appointed chief in January 1995. He had served as the borough's lieutenant for three years before the promotion and had been with the Collingswood department since 1971.

A second-generation police officer, he had two uncles who were police officers - one a state trooper and the other a former public-safety director for Camden City, where Mr. Stimelski started out as a police officer, working from 1968 to 1971. Today, his son is a police officer in Winslow Township.

``He was a cop's cop,'' said current Collingswood Police Chief Thomas J. Garrity, who recalled starting in the department when Mr. Stimelski was a platoon sergeant. ``He never forgot what it was like to be a patrolman, and his administrative style always looked out for the patrolman. He was a good mentor and coached along many in the department.

``He enjoyed the uniform and dealing with people in the street,'' Garrity said. ``He had a calming influence on people. And could speak to people in a professional but yet compassionate manner.''

Garrity said the department was in shock over Mr. Stimelski's death. ``All he ever talked about was spending time with his grandchildren. He was very much a family man.''

He was a charter member of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 76 and was a member of the New Jersey Police Chiefs' Association. He had served in the National Guard for six years.

He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Theresa Perovich Stimelski; a son, Robert; a daughter, Bernadette Klaus; three grandchildren; his father, Stanley Stimel; and a sister, Dorothy Handy.

Friends may call from 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow and after 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at Blake-Doyle Funeral Home, 226 Collings Ave., Collingswood. Funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Monmouth and Atlantic Streets, Gloucester City. Burial will be in St. Joseph's Cemetery, Chews Landing.

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