SAYRE POLICE CHIEF, RAY ELDRED by Bob Baker
"Ray Eldred - a man who has earned the deep respect of the community in which he was raised as a child, grew into manhood to serve and defend his country in a time of war and doing so with honor. He has love for God and his family, being a devoted father; he has known and felt grief."
"For the past 20 years as chief of police, he has served the Borough of Sayre with deep consideration for the citizens of Sayre. He led and guided the officers under him and made them a group of well-trained men, never asking them to do something he would not do himself."
--From a testimonial dinner held for Ray in 1974 on his retirement.
Chief Eldred was born in Sayre, and graduated from Sayre High School with the Class of 1935. He was the captain of the football team during his senior year.
He joined the Sayre Borough Police Department in January 1940, but left shortly after Pearl Harbor began the United States' active involvement in World War II. He was sent to England in June 1942, as a member of the 31st Fighter Group, which covered allied action in the Dieppe raid two months later. He went into North Africa with the invasion forces in November, and participated in the Tunisian Campaign. He later went on to Sicily and Italy, where he was on the Anzio beachhead.
He was a crew chief on a P-50 Mustang in one of the oldest fighter squadrons serving in the Mediterranean and earned the Soldier's Medal with an oak leaf cluster signifying a second award of the medal. This recognition was for the meritorious service in saving the lives of two pilots whose planes had crashed and burned while in combat.
After returning from combat in Europe, Eldred married the former Gertrude Dunfee of Sayre on November 29, 1944 in the Rectory of the Sayre Church of the Epiphany. The had three children, Suzanne (Mrs. Lawrence) Parsons of Sayre, Barbara (Mrs. Arnold) Resicker of Wisconsin, and a son, Raymond (Butch) L. Eldred III, who was killed in an automobile accident near Waverly Glen in September, 1971.
Eldred rejoined the Sayre Police Department after receiving his honorable discharge from the Air Force in 1945, but left again about three years later to accept a position as Bradford County detective. He was appointed by District Attorney C. Wayne Smythe of Troy to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Lyle Burlingame.
He returned to the Sayre Police Department as chief on June 1, 1954, upon appointment by the borough council. He assumed the chief's position from Ray Nobles, who, at the time was 68 years of age.
As Chief Eldred prepared to retire, he said "I've always enjoyed my job, and tried to run the department using good judgment and common sense. I feel I've had a successful career, and a great deal of the credit goes to the men I have worked with, my wife and family and the community.
Chief Eldred was always concerned about the welfare of his men. Former Sayre Mayor, Nicholas Chacona said, " It's had to find anybody who doesn't admire him. Many a night he would fill in for one of his men so that he could take off to go to school. If the ( patrolmen) got a $300. raise, he would only take a $300. raise."
"I think the chief of police, above any other (borough) official, reflects the community," the mayor said, noting that Chief Eldred is widely admired both in the Valley and in the county. This is reflected in the large number of votes Eldred received when he was voted in as a member of the Sayre Borough Council after his retirement.
Eldred had a great interest in young people. He was very active in Little League and Babe Ruth baseball in the off duty hours. He has befriended many young men and women in the course of his job. He often spoke to church youth groups and was very active in the Church of the Redeemer.
Upon his retirement, Chief Eldred said if he could do it all over again, he would still become a police officer in Sayre. "I've enjoyed my career as a police officer," he said. "Sayre has an awful lot of nice people. I've also enjoyed working with the men in my department, and meeting other law enforcement people from all parts of the county."
One of the law enforcement people he met during his career was J. Edgar Hoover, then director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This happened when Chief Eldred was attending the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy in Washington, D.C. Eldred was one of the 90 handpicked officers to take the three-month course. He received a scholarship from the PA Chiefs of Police Association, and became one of a class made up of officers from every State in the Union, from Canada, and the Philippines. Hoover attended two or three receptions held for the officers and presented their certificates when they graduated from the course.
Lt. Edward J. Bloomer, who was the station commander of the Pennsylvania State
Police at the Towanda Barracks at the time of Eldred's retirement said Eldred gained the respect of the state police for his cooperation and police ability. "I couldn't ask for a better relationship...at no time would he give us anything but cooperation. I would describe him as a policeman's policeman," Bloomer stated.
Ray Eldred died in May of 1999. His wife of over 50 years still lives in Sayre. People who knew Ray, both as a cop and a friend, continue to have high regard and respect for him. Dick Bowman, a long time friend and former Sayre officer, remembers his as a "good man to work for. He came from the old school and I learned a lot from him and his running of the police department. He was a good family man and treated the people of Sayre the way he would want to be treated. He worked for his men and treated them all the same. Being a chief is a tough job. Ray was well liked and did a good job. He was a good friend."