Richard L. DePamphilis Jr., a former police chief in Longport and longtime resident there, died Sunday. He was 85.
"He was a tough dad," said his son, Richard L. DePamphilis III, the mayor of Linwood. "He was a really caring person. Taught you a lot of things growing up."
His dad loved Longport, said DePamphilis III, 62.
"He grew up there also, and I guess he loved it so much because he was there for a long time, and it became part of his life."
Visitation is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the George H. Wimberg Funeral Home in Linwood. Burial is private.
DePamphilis' life was changed forever by one early incident in the borough.
In February 1934, when he was almost 8 years old, DePamphilis Jr. was run over by a Longport school bus that he was attempting to board. The accident left him with a shortened leg, DePamphilis III said, and doctors said he never would walk again. The borough settled a lawsuit in 1947 for $10,000 when he was 21.
DePamphilis Jr. began his law-enforcement career when he joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation's fingerprint division in 1945. He was sworn to Longport's force in 1947 by his father, Richard L. DePamphilis Sr., who served for decades as the borough's first police chief.
His dad was a relentless law-enforcement officer, said DePamphilis III, who worked for the borough Police Department as a dispatcher and officer before leaving in 1978 for a career in Atlantic City's casinos.
"He liked to work," DePamphilis III said. "It's funny, because living two blocks from the beach, you never saw him down there. I don't think he liked the beach too much."
DePamphilis III added the small borough at the tip of Absecon Island was never far from his father's mind. "Even at night he would get fidgety and want to drive and take a look at things."
He had a small circle of friends, mostly fellow police officers, DePamphilis III said. His best friend was Margate police Chief James Craig, DePamphilis III said.
"He wasn't very social," DePamphilis III said. "He just had a small circle of friends that he liked, friends and family."
After rising through the ranks to captain in 1969, DePamphilis Jr. was named chief of the borough's small police force on Sept. 4, 1974, several days after his father retired.
He made few changes in his six years as Longport's top cop, former Press of Atlantic City columnist Sonny Schwartz wrote when DePamphilis Jr. retired in 1980. "Because the Longport Police Department never had a detective bureau, DePamphilis Jr. did all the detective work himself for the 33 years he was on the force," Schwartz wrote.
After he retired in 1980, he owned and operated R.D. Casino's News and Variety store in Margate with his wife ,Faye. They ran the store for two decades, DePamphilis Jr. said, putting in 14-hour days. Once the store was sold in about 2000, DePamphilis III said, his father finally retired, for real.
DePamphilis Jr. was a life member of the International, New Jersey, South Jersey and Atlantic County Chiefs of Police Associations, as well as the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. He is survived by two sons, a daughter and their families, including seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, as well as two sisters.
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