Community mourns loss of former police chief

Published 9:39 am Monday, September 28, 2015

Stanley Oliver, second from right, during his 2012 retirement party at the Alabaster Senior Center. Oliver died on sept. 26 after battling a rare lung disease. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

Stanley Oliver, second from right, during his 2012 retirement party at the Alabaster Senior Center. Oliver died on Sept. 26 after battling a rare lung disease. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – The Alabaster community is mourning the loss of “a great man, a loving husband and father … and a devoted servant to the citizens of Alabaster” after the city’s former police chief, Stanley Oliver, died on the night of Sept. 26.

Oliver served for 40 years in law enforcement, and was the Alabaster chief for 12 years before he retired from the department on Oct. 1, 2012. Current Alabaster Police Chief Curtis Rigney said Oliver was the first Alabaster chief with a college degree, helped to start the city’s first school resource officer program and tripled the size of the department’s criminal investigation division.

“He was one-in-a-million. Forty years in law enforcement is a tremendous amount of time,” Rigney said, noting many in the law enforcement field retire after 25 years. “He loved Alabaster, he loved the citizens and he wanted to make sure they were safe and taken care of.”

Last year, Oliver was diagnosed with a rare disease called pulmonary hypertension, which causes high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs. The disease leads to extensive scarring and, eventually, non-functioning lungs.

Stanley Oliver was referred from UAB to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio in summer 2014, and began visiting the facility for tests in August 2014. In January, he learned the clinic had turned down his request for a double lung transplant because he has undergone open-heart surgery before.

During the months since then, Oliver’s health gradually deteriorated, and he was placed on hospice care a few weeks before he died.

“Chief (Oliver) was always there for his family, friends and all the citizens of Alabaster,” former Alabaster Mayor David Frings, who worked with Oliver for the majority of his time at the city, wrote on his Facebook wall on Sept. 27. “Another honorable man taken way too soon from us. I pray that he rest in peace with the Lord and that his family can heal from the loss and pain. Rest in peace, my friend!”

As of Sept. 28, a post on the Alabaster Police Department’s Facebook wall announcing Oliver’s passing had garnered more than 175 messages expressing support for the Oliver family from members of the community.

After Oliver was diagnosed with the disease, the Alabaster community – Particularly Creek View Elementary School, where Oliver’s wife, Linda, works – stepped up to support the family.

In October, CVES physical education teacher Catherine Mohon organized a T-shirt drive to benefit the Olivers. With the help of the school’s faculty, the community and Alabaster Pediatric Dentistry, the school’s teachers were able to present the Oliver family with a $3,130 donation during a Dec. 17, 2014, ceremony at the school to help offset medical bills.

In January, the Kona Ice company held a fundraiser at CVES, which raised $1,009 to help offset Oliver’s medical expenses.

A visitation for Oliver will be held from 5-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at Westwood Baptist Church. The funeral service will be at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 30, at Westwood, followed immediately by a graveside ceremony at Southern Heritage Cemetery in Pelham.