January 1, 2018

The Farsider
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Jan. 1, 2018

Bill Mattos, Editor and Publisher <bilmat@comcast.net>
Leroy Pyle, Webmaster <leroypyle@sjpba.net>

The Farsider is an independent publication that is not affiliated with the San Jose Police Benevolent
Assn. The SJPBA has allowed the Farsider to be included on its website solely for the convenience of
the retired San Jose Police community. The content of this newsletter does not represent or reflect
the views of the San Jose Police Benevolent Association’s Board of Directors or its membership.

 

CHAPLAIN DAVE BRIDGEN

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Born:  June 1, 1945
Appointed: 1981 (part time) 1986 (full time)
Retired: 2014

Entered into Heaven: December 31, 2017

By Gary Johnson

It is with deep sadness that I report that Retired Chaplain David Bridgen passed away at approximately 4:55 am on December 31, 2017 after a valiant battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was diagnosed with this dreadful disease in 2010.

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Chaplain Dave was born on June 1, 1945 in Chicago, IL. At the age of 23, while in the United States Army, he served in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive where he came into contact with Agent Orange. This was believed to be the source of his Parkinson’s Disease.

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After leaving the Army, Dave returned to Southern California where he met the love of his life, Betty Ruth Clingen. They were married on June 27, 1969 and had been married for over 47 years at the time of his passing. It was during that time that Dave sensed God was leading him into a life in the ministry. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Christian Education at Biola University and his Master’s Degree in Christian Education at Talbot Seminary. Dave served as a pastor in several churches in Southern California before coming to Hillside Evangelical Free Church in San Jose. It was during this time that he met Lieutenant Larry Thannisch and Sergeant Fred Reid, both of whom were active in the San Jose Police Chaplaincy. When then-Chaplain John McDonald announced his retirement from the Chaplaincy, Larry and Fred approached Dave with the idea of him becoming the next San Jose Police Chaplain. At first, Chaplain Dave worked as a volunteer part-time Chaplain while still working part-time for the church. Approximately five years later, Chaplain Dave became the full-time Chaplain for the Department.

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Chaplain Dave quickly became a resource for other law enforcement agencies around the country that were attempting to establish chaplaincies for their departments. He also served as the Chaplain for the San Jose Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigations and also taught at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Dave was instrumental in several major innovations in the San Jose Police Department. Among others, he was instrumental in the implementation of the Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Program, the Family Academy for the spouses and significant others of our new officers, and the Community Chaplain program where trained chaplains responded at all hours to major incidents to be a resource for families and officers in need. In 1999, Chaplain Dave was selected as the “International Police Chaplain of the Year.”

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Chaplain Dave was very involved in the life of the San Jose Police Department. He could often be seen on ride-alongs or just walking the halls talking with people from our SJPD family. He was there for us in times of joy such as weddings, the births of children and promotions, and he was there for us in times of need, regardless of the hour. Chaplain Dave has been a huge help to many of us during times of crisis, including officer-involved shootings, accidents, illnesses and deaths in our personal families.

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Dave leaves his wife Betty Ruth and their two sons, Mark (Raquel) in Nashville, TN, and Matthew (Elise) in Richmond, CA, three grandchildren: Nimeh (14), Àine (13) and Henry (7). Dave also leaves a sister Jan (Dennis) in Michigan and a brother Dan (Jeri) in Bakersfield as well as other extended family.

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A few weeks ago, Chaplain Dave was meeting with a nurse practitioner from the VA Hospital. For several weeks, it had been almost impossible for him to utter an audible sentence. On this day, Chaplain Dave was having difficulty finding words and the nurse practitioner told him that she knew it was frustrating for him to not be able to express himself. In a clear, strong voice, Chaplain Dave told her, “I just want people to see God in my life every day.” Over the years, I think that many of us in the SJPD family have seen God in Chaplain Dave’s life. He was always a great example for us.

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Services for Chaplain Dave are pending. We will advise when we have the details. Please continue to pray for Betty Ruth and the family.

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For questions or additional information, contact Gary
Johnson at (408) 807-6809 or <gj1901@comcast.net>