Westerly, RI – Mildred L Wertz, 95, of 3219 Horse Carriage Way, Naples, FL died at 1:15 PM on September 3rd, at Yale New Haven Health – Westerly Hospital in Westerly, RI. Mildred was affectionately called Millie, or Mid by her many friends.
Born in Cocolamus PA, she was the daughter of the late Jeremiah (Jerry) Leister, and Mabel (Lauver) Leister of Lewistown and McAllisterville PA. She is survived by her children: Karen D. Godere, of Manchester CT, Steven R. Wertz and his wife Kaitryn of Lafayette, CO, and Pamela Reinholtz and her husband, Helmut of Griswold, CT; grandchildren, Jennifer Godere, Kaya Wertz and Blake Wertz, and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 62 years, Robert P. Wertz; her sister Grace Clark and brothers, Donald and Wayne Leister.
Mildred graduated McAllisterville High School in 1942 and Lewistown Hospital School of Nursing in 1945. She began her professional life as a registered nurse, graduating from the Lewistown Hospital School of Nursing in 1945. Subsequently she worked as a private duty nurse, and also spent 12 years working as an RN at McCook memorial Hospital in Hartford where she had many interactions working with police.
Realizing that her medical background (and her grit) could be useful in police work, she was hired in 1959 by the Hartford Police department to be one of a group of 5 women called, at the time, “cops in skirts.” She served the force nearly 30 years, continuing her education while employed. She received her Associate’s Degree in Criminology from the University of New Haven, and Bachelor and Master Degrees from the University of Hartford.
In addition to being a member of the CT Association of Women Police and the fraternal Order of Police, she was also appointed to the Task Force for Children in CT by then Governor William O’Neill. She was a member of the Naples Florida United Church of Christ and attended the Dunns Corners Community Church Presbyterian when in Westerly, RI. She also enjoyed being a member of the Westerly Yacht Club.
Also, in 1974, she was promoted to become the first female detective in the 113 year history of the Hartford Police Department. With both her medical and police background, she was called upon at that time to head a Special Rape Investigation Unit. In 1979, she received the University of Hartford Distinguished Alumnus award for outstanding professional achievement. She retired from Police Department in 1988.
Mildred was always sharp as a tack. “Case” in point – In 2011, at the age of 86 and 23 years after her retirement from the police force, new DNA evidence came to light in a murder case she had worked on in ’88. She was called upon to testify and was instrumental in securing the conviction of Pedro Miranda – believed to have killed at least 3 young girls. She clearly remembered how she had gathered evidence and made drawings of the crime scene. Extremely impressed, the Harford Police Patrolman’s Benevolent Association presented her with an award in recognition of her many accomplishments as Harford’s first female detective.
Because of concerns having to do with the pandemic, a small service has already been held involving some members of the immediate family. Another service will be held in Lewistown, PA at a date to be announced.
Memorial contributions can be made to the charity of one’s choice.
Gaffney-Dolan Funeral Home in Westerly was in care of the arrangements. For online condolences please visit www.gaffneydolanfuneralhome.com