DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Bruce Stark, a longtime police officer in Vermilion County and member of the Vermilion County Board, has died at the age of 67.
Stark passed away on Sunday in Hoopeston, and his death prompted an outpouring of grief among Vermilion County law enforcement. He spent most of his 45-year career in Danville, serving as a sworn officer from 1978 to 2013. He held many positions in the department but settled as a Detective in the Investigations Division as well as an arson investigator. He also served on the Vermilion County Board for 25 years.
Even after retiring in 2013, Stark continued to serve Danville as a civilian employee of the Danville Police Department. However, he continued his work as a sworn officer by being Police Chief of Muncie, Fithian, and Indianola. He was working part time in the Tilton Police Department at the time of his death.
“When needed, Bruce again went to work on the street to help with shortages on the schedule or fill in for full-time officers on the spur of the moment. Bruce was always about helping others out,” Tilton Police Chief Phillip Bernardi said on Facebook. “Bruce was a great friend and coworker and will be greatly missed.”
Danville Police Chief Chris Yates also paid tribute to Stark on Facebook, recalling Stark’s role in helping him transition into the Chief position.
“When I was sworn in as Chief of Police for Danville, Bruce helped me understand the inner workings of the department,” Yates said. “Training a new Chief would probably be the last thing an employee of over 40 years would want to do, yet Bruce stepped up and helped me through the transition. Some would have taken pleasure in seeing a new Chief drown by being overwhelmed. That was not Bruce. I owe him dearly for his humility and service. A debt I cannot repay.”
Yates, as well as Bernardi, also mentioned Stark’s dedication to his wife Becky, his children and his grandchildren in their tributes.
“As much as Bruce worked, he kept time for those who meant most to him,” Yates said. “This is something that all public servants can learn from. Bruce was dedicated to his family, friends and career. He continued in his work because he loved people, and they loved him back.”
Visitation is scheduled for Friday between 5 and 7 p.m. at Sunset Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Danville, followed by a celebration of life the following day at 1 p.m. Stark’s family asked that, in lieu of flowers, any memorials in his memory be made toward his grandchildren’s college education fund.