Former Deputy Police Chief ‘Jake’ Shea Dies at 81

The city is remembering a longtime member of Haverhill’s public safety community and city retirement board.

Former Haverhill Deputy Police Chief Donald J. “Jake” Shea, 81, passed away Monday, July 4, at Hannah Duston Healthcare Center, Haverhill. He was a Haverhill police officer for 41 years and deputy chief for 18 years. He was the husband of Romaine (Emilio) Shea.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini is among those remembering Shea’s “decades” of service to the city. He told WHAV this morning he knew Shea “very well” and the city and others are “in mourning today over his loss.” He also called the one-time acting police chief “a wonderful human being as well as being a terrific police officer.”

“Jake Shea served the city for many, many years as a police officer. He served the city then as deputy chief and acting chief. And long after he retired, he continued to serve the city as the mayor’s representative on the city’s retirement board – always fighting for what was right for the city and for its retirees. He did a wonderful job all throughout his life and he will be sorely missed,” Fiorentini said.

Fiorentini also recalled, as a youth, Shea’s community involvement and, later, a professional relationship as an attorney.

“I used to see him down at the stadium during the football games. Jake would do a wonderful job of keeping all of us kids in line and all of the kids, after I became an adult, in line. And later on, when I became a lawyer, I had many cases with Jake Shea. We were on the opposite side – I was a defense lawyer, for a little while I was a prosecutor. But Jake was always a gentleman, always a wonderful man to deal with, always honest,” Fiorentini added.

The flag at city hall will be flown at half-staff in honor of Shea, according to the mayor’s office.

Born in Haverhill, Shea was the son of the late Henry M. and Jessie N. (Merrill) Shea. Raised and educated in Haverhill he was a graduate of Haverhill High School, class of 1952. He attended Northern Essex Community College, Northeastern University and Anna Marie College, Paxton, earning a master’s degree in law enforcement. He served his country in the United States Army during the Korean War. “Jake,” as he was known, loved to work in his yard and was an avid Patriots and Red Sox fan.

In addition to his wife of 57 years, he leaves his children, Donald R. Shea of Groveland and Jane E. Yerrington and her husband Ernest of Manchester, N.H.; grandchildren, Preston Yerrington and Abby Shea Yerrington; sister, Nancy Hatfield of St. Petersburg, Fla.; and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his daughter Lisa M. Shea; sisters, Jane Richards and Margaret Andrews; and his brothers, Howard Shea, Robert Shea, Henry Shea and Paul Shea.

Family and friends are invited to attend calling hours Thursday, July 7, from 4 to 7 p.m., at Kevin B. Comeau Funeral Home, 486 Main St., Haverhill. Funeral services begin Friday morning at 10, from the funeral home with a Mass of Christian Burial to be celebrated at 11 a.m., at St. James Church, 185 Winter St., Haverhill. Burial will follow in St. James Cemetery, Primrose Street, Haverhill.