Holden Police Chief Chris Greeley, pictured in December 2021 while preparing to hand out Christmas gifts to Holden community members, died on Thursday at the age of 60. Greeley was a driving force in Holden Police Department's 25 Days of Kindness. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Holden Police Chief Chris Greeley unexpectedly died Thursday night after a brief illness, according to the police department.

Greeley was well known in the communities where he worked as a police officer, but also from co-hosting on radio station WVOM as a fill-in on the George Hale/Ric Tyler show.

He joined Holden Police Department in 2007 as a patrol officer and worked his way to chief in September 2015.

“He truly understood community policing and cared deeply for the citizens of the town of Holden along with the people he worked with,” the police department said.

Greeley showed that caring for his community in several ways, including the 25 Days of Kindness that he began with a few hundred dollars and grew it to more than $25,000 last year, according to Holden police. The program provided residents with food, gift cards, paper products, presents and cash during December.

Greeley’s scope of caring wasn’t limited to just the community where he worked. He also was a Republican legislator in the House of Representatives from 2002 until 2010, when term limits prevented him from running for office again.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said in a statement that Greeley was an extraordinary law enforcement official and community leader, and leaves behind a powerful legacy of community service.

“I last saw Chris just two weeks ago, while he was guest co-hosting WVOM,” Collins said. “Through his words as well as his actions, Chris demonstrated his devotion to others, earning him the trust and admiration of his officers and the affection of the community. His passing is a tremendous loss not only to the Holden Police Department, but also to the entire region. I extend my heartfelt condolences to his wife, Donna, as well as his entire family and many friends.”

Greeley had worked for various Penobscot County police departments over his 32-year career, including Veazie, Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office, Brewer and Holden.

“Chief Greeley’s humor, stories and personality will be missed greatly by those of us who have known him for many years,” the Holden Police Department said.

George Hale worked alongside Greeley over the past several years when the chief would work the control board and guest co-host on Hale’s radio show on WVOM.

The pair liked to playfully pick on each other, Hale said, but they never got into genuine arguments. Though they sometimes disagreed on politics, Greeley always listened to both sides of the argument and was fair and level-headed, he said.

“He was the kind of police officer and leader you’d want,” Hale said. “He respected everyone in the community and they respected him.”

Bangor City Council Chairman Rick Fournier, who first met Greeley about 30 years ago, said the officer was a “media hound, but I mean that in the best way,” who was always ready to promote what he cared about.

Whether he was working in law enforcement, the Maine Legislature or displaying animals at the Bangor State Fair, Fournier said Greeley was genuine, kind and well-respected in the community.

Josh Tardy first met Greeley at the University of Maine Orono in the late 1980s and later served alongside him in the Maine Legislature from 2002 to 2010.

Regardless of the situation, Tardy said Greeley was fun to be around and had an infectious personality.

“I remember how, as a legislator, even during the longest nights, he had a smile on his face,” he said. “He was a positive force.”

In addition to his kind, charismatic demeanor, Tardy said Greeley was a strong, intelligent leader who had a talent for public speaking

“He exemplified the important role law enforcement can play in a community,” Tardy said. “This is a significant loss.”