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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Merrimack police, town remember big-hearted, community-minded sergeant

MERRIMACK – Nearly six years ago, veteran police detective Ed Pane sent out a heartfelt thank-you to his community for coming together to once again make a huge success of the annual comedy night that raises thousands of dollars each year to run programs that benefit residents – especially children – through school field trips, athletic teams, scholarships and to help the less fortunate during the holiday season.

On Tuesday, around 60 of Pane’s colleagues and friends – and thousands more in spirit – returned the favor, taking part in a special Ice Bucket Challenge less than a day after Pane, 47, succumbed to his three-year battle with
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – Lou Gehrig’s disease. ...

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MERRIMACK – Nearly six years ago, veteran police detective Ed Pane sent out a heartfelt thank-you to his community for coming together to once again make a huge success of the annual comedy night that raises thousands of dollars each year to run programs that benefit residents – especially children – through school field trips, athletic teams, scholarships and to help the less fortunate during the holiday season.

On Tuesday, around 60 of Pane’s colleagues and friends – and thousands more in spirit – returned the favor, taking part in a special Ice Bucket Challenge less than a day after Pane, 47, succumbed to his three-year battle with
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – Lou Gehrig’s disease.

That the Ice Bucket Challenge, which has gone viral since its online debut a month ago, raises funds for ALS research made Tuesday’s event a particularly fitting way for Merrimack to honor and remember their fellow officer and neighbor who graduated from Merrimack High in 1985 and served as a police officer for 19 years.

On Thursday, the center of town is expected to be a beehive of activity for much of the day as Pane’s family, friends, fellow officers and the community at large gather at the Rivet Funeral Home to pay their respects from 1-3 p.m. and again from 6-9 p.m.

There is no funeral service scheduled. Pane’s obituary can be found at www.nashuatelegraph.com/obituaries.

Merrimack Police Chief Mark Doyle, one of many officers who partnered with Pane at one time or another over their careers, said officers and civilian staff joined faculty and staff of Thornton’s Ferry School for Tuesday’s chilly challenge.

“We put the team together over the weekend and just sort of jumped right in,” Doyle said Wednesday. “Ed knew a lot of people at the school, he’d worked with them over the years.”

Merrimack firefighters also rose to the occasion with their own version of the challenge.

Doyle recalled Pane as a man who found ways to stay involved in department activities even as his condition deteriorated. “Even though he was retired, Ed stayed active as long as he could,” Doyle said. “He stayed well-
connected with everyone, and they in turn would help him be as active as possible.”

Pane, who worked light-duty assignments for about a year after his diagnosis, was in his 19th year when he retired two years ago. From the day he joined the department, those who knew him have said, Pane knew that being a police officer in a town the size of Merrimack goes beyond fulfilling your law enforcement responsibilities.

“Ed was always coordinating events for members to take part in and organizing food drives and so forth,” Doyle said. An active member and longtime president of New England Police Benevolent Association Local 12, the union that represents Merrimack’s patrolmen, detectives and sergeants, Pane was known for running more than one program, fundraiser or benefit at a time.

“He grew up here, went to school here … he knew the value of staying connected to the community,” Doyle said. The holiday-season food drives Pane launched more than a decade ago will continue, carried on by his fellow union members and the department in general, he added.

Pane’s career-long focus on “doing his homework” and taking a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to his job prompted the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council to recognize him in 1999, just four years into his career.

Pane, along with fellow Merrimack officers John Dudash and Joseph Goodridge, were cited that year for exemplifying the state agency’s “Looking Beyond the Traffic Ticket” program, which acknowledges the efforts of officers who “have made significant arrests, recovered stolen property or drugs and have made a difference in providing a safer environment in which to drive,” according to the agency.

Born in the southern Nassau County, Long Island town of Seaford, Pane came to New Hampshire with his family and had lived in Merrimack until recently, when he moved to Bedford.

His mother, Frances E. Pane, died in August 2011, shortly before Pane was diagnosed with ALS.

Doyle said that as the department’s firearms instructor, Pane worked closely with most all the department’s officers. The department plans to name its armory for Pane, Doyle added.

Pane also served as a field training officer, helping to break in new recruits and acclimate them to the nature of policing their town. “A lot of officers had a chance to learn from him,” Doyle said.

Shortly after the 2008 comedy night fundraiser he helped organize, Pane shared his belief that police officers, by the very nature of their jobs, are ideal fundraiser organizers because they meet many people and families who are down on their luck or in need of assistance.

“We encounter a lot of different things in law enforcement,” he said at the time. “We see people who need (help) that a lot of people can’t see. It doesn’t matter who it is.”

Pane added that the funds are used for a wide variety of purposes, as long as they involve helping people.

“Basically anything that comes up, we use it,” he said. “We do lots of stuff for kids.”

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).