NORTH READING — Henry J. "Hank" Purnell, retired North Reading Police Chief, 69, of North Reading, and formerly of Charlestown, died at his home surrounded by his family on Friday, Sept. 9, 2011, after a long illness.
Born in Charlestown, on April 26, 1942. He was the son of the late William E. Purnell and Josephine (McManus) Boque. He was the stepson of the late Robert Boque. Hank was raised and attended school in Charlestown and was graduate of Charlestown High School.
He was a 42 year member of the North Reading Police Department, serving from 1966 to 2007. He served as Chief of Police from 1985 to 2007. In 1966 he was appointed Patrol Officer and in 1971 he was appointed to the position of Detective. In 1972 he attended Specialized TPF Training at The FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. In 1974 he was promoted to Sergeant Detective and was selected "The Police Officer Of The Year," by the North Reading JayCees in 1975. He was promoted to the position of Lieutenant and Night Shift Commander in 1981 and promoted to Chief of Police in 1985.
Hank has been a resident of North Reading for the past 50 years and was a member of St. Theresa's Church. He was a member of the North Reading Rotary Club and was elected President in 1987. He was also a member of the North Reading Hillview Commission, Police Chief Association and the North East Law Enforcement Council, serving as Secretary and as President.
Hank was dedicated husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, there could ever be. He was a great influence and role model too all who knew him. He was an example of how the strong survive through adversity and a superhero to his family. He never gave up on anyone through tough times or bad. He was the rock of Gibraltar and strength to all. Hank dedicated his life to serve our community with the hopes of upholding law and order and making our home a safer place to live.
Family members include his loving wife of 42 years, JoAnna M. (Parsons) Purnell. Loving father of sons, Henry Purnell, Jr., and his wife Pam of Port Richey, Fla., and Reggie Goulet and his wife JoAnn of East Hampsted, N.H.; daughters, Debbie Purnell of Port Richey, Fla., Tammey Zwicker and her husband Jeff of Derry, N.H., Tina Tryder and her husband Michael of Tewksbury and Tracey Purnell of North Reading. Brother of George Purnell and his wife Catherine of Charlestown, Michael Purnell of Saratoga, Fla., Joan Walters and Ann Phillips of Malden and Gale Steeves and her husband Richard of Stoughton, the late Billy Purnell and late wife Elaine and the late Danny Purnell; Brother-in-law of John Parsons and his wife Elaine of Methuen, Marion Fraughton of Seabrook, N.H., and the late Susan Furbush. Grandfather of 10, Tura Purnell, Corena and Danielle Zwicker, Lucas, Emily and Olivia Tryder, Sarah, Derek, Tara and Reginald David Goulet, Jr. Also survived by four great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
ARRANGEMENTS: Funeral from the Croswell Funeral Home, 19 Bow St., North Reading on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 9:45 a.m., followed by a 11 a.m. funeral Mass at St. Theresa's Church, 63 Winter St., (Route 62), North Reading. Calling hours will be held on Tuesday from 3 to 8 p.m. Burial will be in Riverside Cemetery in North Reading. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made in his memory to: North Reading Rotary Club, P.O. Box 12, North Reading, MA 01864.