Raleigh, N.C. — Former Raleigh police chief and U.S. congressman Frederick K. Heineman died of natural causes at his Raleigh home Saturday, police said. He was 80 years old.
Heineman served as the Raleigh chief of police from 1979 to 1994. Funeral arrangements haven't been completed.
"This is a particularly sad day for the entire senior leadership team of the Raleigh Police Department, who Chief Heineman hired and prepared to lead the RPD today and well into the future," Chief Harry Dolan said in a statement Sunday. "He was a highly-respected role model and a mentor to us."
Heineman resigned as police chief to make a successful run for the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina's 4th District. He served one term before being defeated in a re-match with David Price.
"Long before he ran for Congress, I worked with him (Heineman) and admired his service as Raleigh’s Chief of Police. His work in law enforcement helped make the Capital City one of the best places in the country to live and raise a family," Price said Sunday in a statement.
A New York City native, Heineman was born Dec. 28, 1929, and graduated from Mt. St. Michael High School, according to his Congressional biography. He served four years in the Marines Corps and spent 25 years with the New York Police Department before coming to Raleigh.
"I remember most his sincerity to the job, that he truly wanted to serve," said Phyllis Stephens, who was his campaign press secretary and district manager. "He really felt that this was a calling. He wasn't looking for glory, publicity. I got the feeling that he truly wanted to serve."
The job, though, seemed overwhelming when he first got to Washington, she remembered.
"He said, 'Phyllis, I'm not sure that I, as one among 400 or so representatives, can really make a difference,'" she said. "He looked at me, he said, 'But I'm sure going to try.'"
Stephens recalled Heineman's dry sense of humor and respect for the dollar. When she picked him up from the airport, she remembered, he wouldn't let you pay for parking to wait for him. Instead, she had to meet him within 15 minutes of his arrival.
"He was going to be a good steward of the taxpayers' dollars and his, too," she said.
Their different accents sometimes created some amusing misunderstandings, Stephens remembered.
"He was a joyful challenge," she said. "I didn’t always understand him because he talked so quickly, and he didn’t always understand me because of my Southern accent. So every now and then, we had to have a translator come in."
Heineman's legacy at the Raleigh Police Department will be long-lasting, police said.
"We will always be grateful for his leadership and will remain honored to have served with him," Dolan said. "His impact on the RPD and community will be felt for decades to come."