Valley first responders held a 30-mile procession for Middleburg Police Chief Tony Jordan as his body was removed from Lewistown Hospital and returned to the Snyder County borough on Wednesday following his death from complications of COVID-19.
Police officers, sheriff deputies and volunteer firefighters paid their respects to the longtime chief by escorting funeral director Bruce Hummel who picked up Jordan's body from the Mifflin County hospital early Wednesday evening.
"We're bringing him home," said Selinsgrove Borough Police officer and retired state police trooper Monty Anders a few hours before joining the procession of about 35 vehicles.
Several spoke of the "great loss" Jordan's passing will have on the community he served for 40 years.
A Middleburg High School graduate, Jordan joined the borough police force in 1980 and served as its chief for several decades.
"Tony was the perfect combination of a professional and a small-town cop," Snyder County District Attorney Michael Piecuch said. "His ability to relate to the community made it a safer place and he will be missed."
Plans are in place to ensure "continuity" of police enforcement in the area, he said.
"Tony was a mentor to so many officers, including me," said Mifflinburg police officer Mark Bailey who first worked with Jordan as an auxiliary police officer in the Middleburg department in the late 1980s.
Bailey was appointed Tuesday night by Middleburg council President and acting Mayor Heidi Potter to serve as acting police chief overseeing two officers in Jordan's absence.
Potter said Jordan recommended Bailey for the position.
"He did that before (medical personnel) put him on the ventilator," she said.
Jordan had not been at work for about a week before he fell ill with COVID-19 and entered the hospital about 1 1/2 weeks ago, Potter said.
"He was a faithful servant and was well known throughout the community and surrounding area. It's a huge loss," she said.
"Tony was an incredible figure who loved his job," said Anders, who has known Jordan for 25 years. "He always remained rooted in where he was from."
Shamokin Dam Police Chief Timothy Bremigen has known Jordan for 30 years and called him "an all-around good guy" who understood his community.
"Tony is what you hope for in a local police chief," said Snyder County Commissioner Joe Kantz. "He had compassion for the residents he was sworn to protect. I always respected his opinions and looked forward to hearing his thoughts on newly proposed ideas that involved law enforcement. He will be missed by many in Middleburg and beyond Snyder County."
Officers from Middleburg, Selinsgrove, Shamokin Dam, Mifflinburg, Sunbury, Milton and Buffalo Valley Regional departments; state police; Bucknell University public safety and Snyder and Union counties' sheriff offices joined the procession which was greeted at the center of downtown Middleburg by an American flag hung between ladder trucks set up by Dauntless Hook & Ladder and Kreamer fire companies.