WEST ORANGE, NJ - Officer Timothy Groves, 48, a beloved fourteen-year veteran of the West Orange Police Department and lifelong West Orange Orange resident, was laid to rest today after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Hundreds of officers from West Orange, Montclair, West Caldwell, Essex Fells, Tenafly, Manalapan, Patterson, Essex County Sheriffs Office and New Jersey State Police Department stood along with family and friends as Groves, and a flower lined police truck with Groves' police bicycle drove past the West Orange Police Department one final time on route to the Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetary in Union, NJ.
Lines of police motorcycles, fire engines and police vehicles filled the funeral procession. The entire Lourdes section of town from Eagle Rock Avenue to Washington Street was closed to traffic.
Tim Groves was a well-known face to West Orange residents. He was dedicated to helping the community, working with the Eagle Rock Civic Association and other organizations and could be found on his police bicycle in local parks and neighborhoods. Fellow Police Officers at the WOPD struggled all week with the grief of Groves' passing. Lifelong friends spoke of how valiantly he had struggled and all that he contributed to West Orange, especially for the children in town. "He truly had a servant's heart' said one of his close friends at the WOPD. "This is so hard for so many of us" said Michelle Casalino, who also grew up with Groves. "We all grew up with Tim in town... he is one of the first WOPD officers to die while still an officer. If we had more people like Timmy Groves, the world would be a better place."
A former WOPD officer, Steve DeRosa, posted on his Facebook page: "Timmy you were a true friend, great co-worker, and training partner all those years with me on the PUT!!!! Your dedication to the Town of West Orange and its residents was unwavering. I am glad you are at peace now and not in pain. You fought a gallant fight my friend to the bitter end, but God wanted you to protect the Gates and streets of Heaven. It was an Honor to call you a great co worker but even more of an HONOR to be your FRIEND!!!!!!!!!!! RIP #168 you will be missed!!!!"
In addition to his work on the WOPD, his obituary in the Star Ledger listed several awards, accomplishments, and recognitions Groves received:
Member of the Police Unity Tour; Program coordinator for the youth of West Orange, coordinating Hook on Fishing Not Drugs, Junior Police Academy, and the Bicycle Rodeo; 2001 Life Saving Award (WOPD), Command Citation-Apprehending Burglary Suspect; 2001 Essex County Valor A Award; 2009 Essex County Valor Scholarship "B" Award, 2009 West Orange Police Officer of the Year; 2010 Essex County "A" Award, 2009 200 Club Valor Award - Outstanding Action in the Line of Duty; 2009 Christian Love Baptist Church Community Service Award, 2011 West Orange Elks Citizen of the Year for recognition of Exceptional Contribution to Youth Development program within the Township of West Orange; and the Elks Distinguished Citizen Award - Outstanding Meritorious Service to Humanity.
Groves was also a volunteer with the Special Olympics (including participation in the Polar Plunge, Plane Pull, and Torch Run). He was given the honor to run the torch into the arena to begin the state games of the Special Olympics XXXXX.
Chris Babinski, a WOPD Dispatcher who gave Groves' "Last Call" as he arrived at the cemetary, paid tribute by posting:
"Our brother Tim was laid to rest on this September day. An honor it was for us to send you on your way. Police Officer, gentleman, and loyal friend you are. Your service is from heaven now, you watch us from afar. Although you're with our Father now, you're too far away. You see, because it's in our hearts we carry you every day.
Captain Mike Corcoran of the WOPD noted: "A very sad day for all the men and women of WOPD and the Township of West Orange as we laid to rest one of the finest men you will ever meet...Officer Timothy Charles Groves. Thank you to all outside agencies and members of the public that supported us throughout the week. A very special thank you to the Dangler family, Father Jim Chern, Sergeant Kevin Bolen, Sergeant John DeMars and Lieutenant Robert Martin and all the men and women of the WOPD for such a fine tribute to a man who will be forever in our hearts. Please pray for Lieutenant Mike Keigher and Officer Will Jiroux who embody the word "brotherhood" in every sense of the word through their care and compassion for Tim until his last day with us. Tim...we are truly blessed by having known you and we are inspired by your grace and courage...until we meet again...may God hold you in the palm of his hand."
Carol Sharkey-Corcoran provided a moving video of bagpipers performing "Amazing Grace" at the funeral service: .
The West Orange Alternative Press extends its condolences to the family and friends of Officer Groves. We would also like to thank Michael D'Onofrio of Caldwell Patch for his photos, and the officers and friends of Officer Groves for their comments, photos and video.