Oceanport resident Homer E. Reighard, age 90, formerly of New Milford, NJ, passed away on August 25 at his home surrounded by family.
“I had the pleasure of working with Captain Reighard when I was a new officer," remembers New Milford Police Chief Frank Papapietro.
"His stern demeanor earned him the nickname 'Captain Grouch' among the younger officers. However, his gruff exterior belied a caring individual who nurtured his first wife, Hilda, through a long and terrible illness to her final day, as he mourned for his infant grandson," Papapietro said.
Born in Jersey City on May 12, 1922, Reighard and his family moved to New Milford in the late 1920’s, eventually purchasing the home of Louis Faller who was New Milford’s first WWII casualty.
Reighard served in the United States Navy as a Corpsman during WWII from 1941-1947, and again during the Korean War from 1951-1952. After returning home from the Korean War, he joined the New Milford Police Dept. where he rose through the ranks and retired as a Captain in 1982.
"He would let us know when we bent the rules too far," Papapietro said. "And when praising us, there was always that mandatory two to three minutes of verbal battering followed by a slow smile."
"When we saw that rare smile we knew we had done well."
Reighard was a member of PBA Local 83, FOP Lodge 73, NJ Police Honor Legion, and Retired and Disabled Police Officers of America. Reighard was also a life member of New Milford Fire Co. 2, and a member of the New Milford Presbyterian Church and Oceanport United Methodist Church.
"Homer was a regular at our PBA Christmas parties and at various firehouse functions," Papapietro said. "He loved his work, he loved his family and he smiled a lot after he retired."
Reighard is pre-deceased by his first wife, Hilda Edmundson Reighard, and an infant grandson, Johnathan Reighard. He is survived by his wife, Ruth Lamenzo Matorelli Reighard and his children Deborah Roensch and her husband Walter; David Reighard and his partner Craig Lafko; Theodore Reighard, former Chief of Elmwood Park FD and active member of NMFD, and his wife Kristina; Douglas Reighard, former Chief of NMFD, and his fiance Jennifer Nestle; and daughter-in-law Roma Reighard.
He is also survived by his grandchildren Jennifer Reierson and her husband David, Katherine Reighard, Andrew Reighard and his fiance Carly Schilling, Ryan Reighard, Theodore Reighard, Jr., Kyle Reighard and great grandson Dietrich Reierson.
A memorial service is planned for Sept. 8 at 11am at the United Methodist Church, 50 Main St., in Oceanport. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to the Oceanport United Methodist Church or New Milford Fire Co. 2.
At Reighard's request, there will be a private cremation and a burial at sea with military honors.
"Homer was truly a cop's cop," Papapietro remembers fondly. "He truly represents the best of the fading greatest generation.”