Former police chief for city dies

Posted: August 1, 2013

The Winchester Star

Winchester’s then-interim police chief, Maj. Fred Hildebrand, gets a congratulatory hug from his son, Fred, after being promoted to the rank of colonel at Rouss City Hall in Winchester in 2004. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)
Fred Hildebrand (left) had a colonel's insignia pinned to his collar by his son, Fred Hildebrand, after being promoted in October 2004 at Rouss City Hall. That year marked the last time Hildebrand served as interim police chief. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — Frederick E. Hildebrand, a community leader and longtime police officer, died Monday.

Hildebrand, 78, three times served as the interim chief for the Winchester Police Department.

Described by many as a “humble man,” Hildebrand was active in giving back to the community, both through volunteer work at Congregational-Community Action Project (C-CAP) and through service at his church, Brucetown United Methodist.

“I think his life was all about service to the community,” said his son, Frederick D. Hildebrand, 52. “He left us memories of sacrifices, love and passion.

“He left the community a lasting legacy of true leadership in its purest form.”

The first time Hildebrand served as interim chief was 1980 — when the police department was at 126 N. Cameron St. Its current headquarters is at 231 Piccadilly St.

He initially came on as an officer in 1956 — a job that his friend Elizabeth Minor, Winchester’s mayor, said epitomized him.

“He was always so helpful in the right way,” she said, adding that he was a “wonderful police officer. He had such a demeanor about him.”

Hildebrand worked his way through the ranks at the department, starting as a patrol officer two years after his graduation from James Wood High School, and earning promotions in 1965 to sergeant, in 1972 to lieutenant, in 1980 to captain of the patrol division, and finally to major in 1995.

Hildebrand retired from the department on July 1, 2001, after 45 years of service.

“He was looked to many times to hold the department together during transitional periods,” said Detective R. Wolford.

During his final stint as interim chief in 2004, the Winchester City Council’s Community Safety and Services Committee bestowed upon him the rank of colonel, making him the highest-ranking officer in the 67-officer (at the time) department.

Wolford said Wednesday that he worked with Hildebrand for 44 years and that they remained friends over the years.

“He’s one of my best friends,” he said, adding that it was difficult to speak about his passing. “Mentor, leader, role model — he’s just a really good person.”

Another close friend, Winchester Sheriff Lenny Millholland, said he had the utmost respect for Hildebrand.

“They didn’t make them any better than Fred,” he said.

He added that he was the most personable employee at the police department — kind, gentle and involved.

“He knew how to handle his men and knew how to handle people,” Millholland said. “He’s one of those supervisors that all police officers would envy to have.”

Hildebrand’s son said that he was a very admired man.

“I adored him, and I miss my friend,” he added.

The family will receive friends and family from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Omps Funeral Home, Amherst Chapel. The service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at the same location, followed by interment at Mount Hebron Cemetery. There will be a reception afterward at Brucetown United Methodist.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at