The mournful sound of bagpipes filled the air on Friday as the family of Holden Police Chief Christian “Chris” David Greeley, followed by law enforcement officers from around the state, entered the Anah Shriners Hall.
That sound filled the packed hall again as Greeley’s flag-draped casket was brought in, accompanied by members of the Maine State Police and Greeley’s local law enforcement colleagues.
Pastor Steve Smith of First United Methodist Church in Bangor led the funeral service.
“The large number of people here today is a testament to the number of people Chris impacted in his life,” said Smith, a former meteorologist.
Greeley, 60, died suddenly last week at his home in Veazie.
Greeley’s wife of 22 years, Donna Gormley-Greeley, her brother-in-law Keith Tasker and Holden police detective Sgt. Andy Whitehouse delivered eulogies. Maine State Police Trooper Taylor Dube sang “Go Rest High on that Mountain” by country singer/songwriter Vince Gill.
Gormley-Greeley said that she and her family have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from all who were touched by her husband.
The two met and fell in love when she worked for a Brewer radio station and he was working for the Brewer police, Gormley-Greeley told the crowd. When he was a Republican state representative, she worked in the administration of Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat. She said they held different political views but always respected each other’s opinions.
She said that Greeley’s sense of humor was legendary.
“Chris brought levity, humor and joy to all around him,” she said. “He never took life too seriously or himself too seriously.”
She described her husband as “a jack of all trades and a master of kindness,” a reference to the 25 Days of Kindness program Greeley founded seven years ago when he became the police chief in Holden.
Tasker said that when he started dating Greeley’s sister, Melissa, more than 40 years ago, the adolescent was not impressed with him. But Tasker and Greeley bonded over their love of music, and in the 1980s they partnered to run a deejay business and grew to be close friends.
Clockwise, from left: Maine State Police trooper Taylor Dube sings “Go Rest High on that Mountain” by Vince Gill at the Celebration of Life ceremony for Chris Greeley; The Maine State Police Honor Guard fold the flag that draped the casket of Holden Police Chief Chris Greeley at the Celebration of Life ceremony at the Anah Shriners Hall on Friday; The Maine State Police Honor Guard salute the casket of Holden Police chief Chris Greeley at the end of a Celebration of Life ceremony at the Anah Shriners Hall in Bangor on Friday. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN
Whitehouse first met Greeley when both worked for the Veazie Police Department about 30 years ago. He described Greeley as “frugal.”
“When I would ask to buy something for the department, he acted like I was asking him to take the money out of his own wallet,” the sergeant said.
Greeley’s long monthly reports to the town council were not about how he had spent the previous four weeks, but touted the work of his officers and their accomplishments.
The Holden town office was closed Friday so staff could attend the service. Town employees from public works, the fire department, the clerk’s office and the police department took up a large section of the hall during the service.
Greeley’s death on March 9 prompted an outpouring of grief from around the state. His family said in his obituary that he “would be amazed and humbled by the outpouring of love and support that so many have shown.”
Gov. Janet Mills directed that flags be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset Friday at the State House and in Penobscot and Hancock counties in honor of Greeley. He served with Mills, a Democrat, in the Maine House of Representatives from 2002 until 2010 when the Republican was termed out.
Greeley said in 2021 that he changed his party affiliation in 2016 from Republican to unenrolled.
“Chris Greeley was a dedicated public servant, a wonderful colleague, and above all else, a good friend,” Mills said Thursday. “The impact of his tireless work to make Maine a better place will be felt for generations to come. On behalf of the people of Maine, I extend my condolences to Chris’ family, friends and all who knew and loved him.”
Greeley was born in May 1962 and grew up spending time at “Greeley Farm,” where his grandparents lived. He attended high school at John Bapst before graduating from Bangor High School.
At left: A prayer card featuring Chris Greeley of the Holden Police Department that was included at the Celebration of Life ceremony held on Friday; at right: The Maine State Police Honor Guard carries the casket of Holden Police Chief Chris Greeley in the Anah Shriners Hall for a Celebration of Life on Friday. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN
Greeley graduated from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in 1995 and served as a law enforcement officer for the Penobscot County Sheriff’s office as well as in Veazie and Brewer. He joined the Holden Police Department when it was created in 2003. He was named chief in 2015.
That is when he started his 25 Days of Kindness program that grew slowly until 2022 when community support for the program exploded.
Greeley said in 2021 that he “thought it would be a fun incentive for officers to do good deeds during the month of December that weren’t in their job descriptions. It was a way to think outside the box a little.”
Cash donations grew from $7,000 in 2021 to $26,000 last year. The police department training room shortly before Christmas overflowed with canned goods, pasta, toys, stuffed animals, winter coats and boots, handmade neck warmers and quilts.
Greeley attributed the increase in donations to the town’s new signs, installed last year, that say: “Welcome to Holden, Home of 25 Days of Kindness.”
Holden Town Manager Benjamin Breadmore said that this spring the signs will be changed to say: “Home of Chief Greeley’s 25 Days of Kindness.”
Breadmore said Thursday that the digital sign outside the town office announcing meetings and events was turned and left black over the past weekend. On Monday, it included a picture of Greeley and the words: “Thank you Chief Greeley for making our world better.” It will remain there through this weekend.
Greeley and his officers often went to the Holden Elementary School to visit with and give gifts to the students and staff. The sign in front of the school Friday said: “Be Kind to Honor Chief Greeley. He will be missed.” Signs at Holden businesses also honored the late police chief.
Greeley is survived by his wife, Donna Gormley-Greeley; his children, Cole Greeley of Veazie, Ali Gormley of Portland and Samantha Gormley of Raleigh, North Carolina; his sister, Melissa Tasker and her husband, Keith, of Westbrook; his sister, Gabrielle Greeley of Portland; and his mother, Victoria Greeley of Brewer.
Greeley’s family has asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to Chris Greeley’s Children’s Trust in care of Nathaniel Putnam at Eaton Peabody, P.O. Box 1210, Bangor, ME 04402-1210.