Retired Police Officer is Remembered for Fairness
Craig Hillier "treated people with dignity. He was always fair to people," Police Chief Alan Gordon says.
For many years, Westborough Police Officer Craig Hillier played his saxophone at town charity events with Tailspin, a local band he helped start, Police Chief Alan Gordon recalls.
"They worked the Fourth of July downtown, and they were a great hit. People looked forward to the year that they would be playing,” Gordon recalled on Friday.
Hillier was a presence in Westborough for much of his life, graduating from Westborough High – where he played in the band – in 1972, and serving on the police department for 31 years before retiring for medical reasons in November 2011. Nov. 30, 2011 was Officer Craig Hillier Day in Westborough.
“People respected him, because he treated people good. He treated people with dignity. He was always fair to people. A majority of tickets he'd write would be all warnings - just to get the message out to people,” Gordon said.
"You'd drive through the center of town, and you'd see Craig sitting with a coffee talking to people. He was a PR person as far as the people in the center of town, because he was always there."
Calling hours were held last Tuesday at the Rand-Harper-Pickering Westborough Funeral Home.
"I knew Craig growing up. He was a great cop,” Selectmen Vice Chairman George Barrette told selectmen that night.
"The calling hours were full, as they should be.”
Gordon said the entire Westborough Police Department command staff, and the department’s honor guard, attended Hillier’s funeral service last Wednesday at the First United Methodist Church.
The chief said he and Officer Leeanne Baker reflected on Hillier’s career during the service.
The honor guard also attended Hillier’s burial at Pine Grove Cemetery.
Friday, Gordon said he has known Hillier for 42 years. Gordon graduated from Westborough in 1971, the year before Hillier, who grew up in Weymouth and moved here in high school.
"He was in the band, and I was playing sports. Our friendship really developed after we started working together a few years later,” Gordon recalled.
Gordon said Hillier was inspired to become a police officer because “his father-in-law was a police officer here, and he got him interested in it.”
"He loved it. He was never your top producer, but he would do right in the middle, and he would get the job done,” Gordon said.
And Hillier loved Westborough.
"Weymouth may have been the town where he grew up as a kid, but this is his adoptive town, right here. He adopted us,” Gordon said.
Later, Hillier was diagnosed with cancer, and maintained a "positive attitude right to the very end,” the chief said.
"He fought a courageous battle. He went through the treatments. He would go to the doctors, and they would try different things with him. They didn't give him a long time, when he left, to live. He made it 18 months after," Gordon said.
Hillier’s grandson, Logan Craig Charland, was born shortly after he retired, Gordon said.
"I think that made the situation a lot easier for him, because he was happy,” Gordon said.