Robert Joseph Chewning

Tributes~Robert Joseph Chewning

Robert Joseph Chewning
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Date of Birth: 
October 22 1923
Date of Death: 
November 8 2006

The son of an iron worker who helped build bridges across the United States, Robert Joseph Chewning also built bridges - ones of community spirit and public trust through his chosen career on the Orlando Police Department following discharge from the U.S. Eighth Air Force at the end of WWII.

Representing the epitome of a cop's cop, he rose through the ranks from a beat officer in 1946 to appointment as Chief of Police in 1967-one of the first actions taken by newly elected Mayor Carl T. Langford - and retiring as Public Safety Director in 1976. He then joined Orange County as Public Safety Director where he administered the development and inauguration of 9-1-I, the first enhanced system in the U.S.

Since he had served in almost every unit of the OPD, there was nothing he asked his officers to do that he had not done or would not do himself, assuring the best law enforcement possible to the citizens as a true labor of love rather than for any monetary reward.

Under his direction, the college education program for Orlando Police officers was initiated; and he set the example of achieving higher standards by earning his A.A. degree with honors from Valencia Community College in 1972 through evening courses while handling the duties of Police Chief. It may seem unbelievable now but he also succeeded in getting air-conditioned police vehicles only because the year before he got air-conditioning approved for the K-9 patrol!

Carrying the City Family spirit a step further, he married a City employee in 1966, Grace [née Wendorff], who retired in 2002 as Orlando City Clerk with 49 years in the City Clerk's Office.

Their 4 acres on the Wekiva River was bought in 1971 as a retreat, but became a full-time home some 20 years ago, when he traded an office and suits for farm life and jeans with vegetable gardening, raising goats, chickens, ducks, geese and peacocks, plus some boating and fishing for good measure.

Photos below, from left to right: Robert served in the United States Air Force; served the City of Orlando, Florida as a Detective Sergeant; then as a Lieutenant in the Juvenile Division; then as Chief of Police; with wife, Grace.

Media data: 
Place of Birth: 
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Place of Death: 
Sanford, Florida, United States
Primary State of Residence: 
Orlando, Florida, United States

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