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Shadyside mourns fallen police officer

SHADYSIDE — The community and police force are mourning the death of Officer Robert Rea Jr., who died last Friday from complications brought on by COVID-19 according to his obituary.

Rea, 52, of Powhatan Point but formerly of Smithfield, often had been seen behind the wheel of one of the Shadyside police cars while on patrol.

He was a 1987 graduate of Buckeye North High School and a law enforcement graduate of the former Jefferson Community College. He served as a law enforcement officer for Wells Township, Smithfield, Rayland, Adena and most recently the villages of Tiltonsville and Shadyside. He also served as a Corrections Officer for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for several years.

“He was a great officer with good experience. He was like family. We’re going to miss him,” Shadyside Police Chief Don Collette said. “I know he called me … and said he was sick. I told him, ‘Do your best, take care of yourself.’ Next thing you know he was in the hospital and then they flew him to Cleveland.

“We’re going to miss Rob. He was a good officer,” Collette said. “He always did a great job for us. He was great with the public and the people.”

Along with his dedication to service, Rea had been known as a fan of NASCAR, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and ’80s music. He had attended many races, games and concerts throughout his life.

Colette added he hopes everyone, particularly first responders on the “front lines,” safeguards their health.

Rea chose to be cremated and there will be no viewing, but his family, friends and fellow officers will join in a Celebration of Life at 5 p.m. Friday at the Friendship Park Pavilion in Smithfield. Colette said officers from Belmont and Jefferson counties are planning to attend.

“We have a lot of response from police officers,” he said. “We’ll do our best to honor the man. He was a great guy and a great officer.”

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to any of the surrounding police departments that he worked for or to the family to help them through this difficult time. J E Foster Funeral Homes in Toronto is handling services. Call 740-537-3900 for more information.

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