Respected Officer Dies

Daily American Staff Writer
Saturday, February 10, 2007 10:19 PM EST Cliff Photo

Clifford Pile, a veteran Somerset Borough police officer, died Saturday morning of cancer. Pile had a distinguish career with the borough police department where he worked as a criminal investigator, patrol supervisor, training officer, K-9 handler, and police academy instructor. "He wore so many hats,” Somerset police Chief Randy Cox said.

Pile retired in June 2005 after serving 26 years at the department. While retired, Pile continued to interact with the department as a mentor. Officers would routinely call him to ask for his advise, Cox said. Cox said he will remember Pile's commitment to excellence. “No matter what it was,” Cox said. “He was committed to people and to young officers.”

Beyond all his accomplishments, he struck people as one of the most caring and compassionate person, Cox said. “He treated everyone the same, even people who didn't deserve it.” “He was a cop's cop,” Cox said. “He was always striving for excellence and instilling it in others.”

Brad Cramer, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, said he will remember Pile's dedication to his job, family and friends. “He was dedicated to any task. He was a tenacious person,” Cramer said. Cramer worked with Pile for 25 years at the borough. He said one of his fondest memories is Pile singing. “Before he fell ill he would come into the office singing,” Cramer said.

(Jennifer Garlesky can be reached at

The following comments were offered by Chief Randy Cox at OIC Pile’s Memorial Service on Saturday, February 17, 2007.

At the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Headquarters in Harrisburg, there is a memorial to deceased members of the Association that reads, “They will not be remembered for how they died, but for how they lived.”  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at that inscription in granite again without thinking of Cliff. 

I may have known Cliff as long as many of you, but certainly not as well.  But, I was fortunate enough to have learned more of Cliff and the way he lived his life since coming to Somerset.  There were things about Cliff that one noticed almost immediately.  One was his dedication to excellence in his work; that insistence on doing things only one way- the right way.  How many of you here today that ever worked with Cliff have not been forced to re-think or re-do some task or complaint or report because it did not meet Cliff’s standards?  And when you did re-think or re-do it, didn’t you just know that the end product was something that you now had more pride in than you did before?  And, the next time you were involved in a project with Cliff, didn’t you add that much more effort to do it the right way?  Sure, you learned that in the end it was certainly less time consuming that way, but, more importantly, you realized that perhaps without even trying, Cliff had challenged you, mentored you, taught you, had enabled you to excel.  Cliff had shared his gift with you.  Cliff was able to do that because of one of the other things that was immediately noticeable about him. 

Cliff wanted other people to be the best that they could be and he was able to possess this desire because Cliff had a rare gift, that of humility.  Cliff wanted his officers to do well.  He was never threatened by the success of others because of that awesome inner strength of his.  That inner strength is probably what enabled Cliff, even when times were so tough for him to share another gift with us:  his ability to enjoy life.

You all know when Cliff was happiest.  It was when he was able to share a creation from his kitchen with as many people at one time as was possible.  The picnics, the goodies he brought into the station or dropped off at your home.  Even more important to him than the food was the camaraderie, the fellowship, the friendship that the food brought about.  Give Cliff family, friends and food and he was happy.  Thank goodness Cliff was so generous to share that happiness with us.  He didn’t even mind doing it when it was at his own expense.  Oh, those stories.  The rototiller that inevitably burst into flames; the balls of fire jumping from the toilet; the time he found the 220 volt line with his drill.  It got to the point you could just imagine the stories before they even came about.  When Cliff told me that Ron Pyle was coming out to the house to help him with a project with his barn and that it involved the two of them operating a rented ditch witch and laying electrical line, I had only one request:  Please take video.

Finally, the other thing that did not take long to realize about Cliff was his courage.  And it was a courage you could respect because it was borne of confidence rooted in competence and honesty.  Was there ever a time if you were an officer and on a call with Cliff that he wasn’t the first one through the door?  If you ever asked Cliff for his advice, you knew you were going to hear his honest opinion.  If there was a battle to be fought, Cliff would fight it with you and would persevere even after you had tired.  Can anyone here think of a time when Cliff ever backed down from a challenge?  No, to the very end, Cliff lived his life this way.  And he inspired us to do the best we could to follow his example.

When Theodore Roosevelt was the New York City Police Commissioner, he gave a speech which contained the following:
It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust, and sweat, and blood; Who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; Who at best knows achievement and who at worst if he fails, at least fails while doing greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.

Cliff lived his life in the arena and we are all fortunate to have been able to share in his great enthusiasms and devotions and worthy causes.  His friends know that we are all better for having known Cliff Pile.  Janice, we thank you and the rest of the family for sharing Cliff with us. 

Cliff has left us and while we grieve now as we should, we will remember him for the way he lived; our teacher, our mentor, our friend, our brother.

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