MERRIMACK — The local community is mourning the loss of a dedicated and passionate member of the police force who died this past weekend following a lengthy illness.
Sgt. Edward Pane, who retired in 2012 after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, also known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), passed away on Sunday night following nearly three years battling the disease.
“We like to think of Ed, at least after his battle with ALS, as a symbol of strength for the police department. He really embraced life throughout the past few years,” said Merrimack Police Chief Mark Doyle.
Pane started out on the police force in 1993 as a part-time officer, and became a full-time employee in 1996. Eventually, he was promoted to sergeant, and served a total of 19 years on the department until his health began declining, according to Doyle.
“He loved doing what he was doing. For him to walk away, it was very difficult,” said Doyle, adding Pane was passionate about law enforcement and was frustrated that ALS began to impact his ability to do his job.
But throughout it all, Doyle said that Pane never complained, but instead maintained an upbeat attitude despite the health challenges.
“He still wanted to be a part of the friendships that he forged, and he never wanted to let go of those connections. I believe we can all take some lessons and look at Ed as an example of how to deal with adverse situations,” said the chief.
Pane also served as a field training officer, where he mentored and provided direction to new officers. He worked on special projects, including gathering data on the impact of the Merrimack Premium Outlets before it opened.
He was a firearms instructor and previous president of the Merrimack Patrolmen’s Union. In addition, Pane worked every holiday season to coordinate several community food basket drives for needy families in the area.
“Ed’s guidance to his officers over the years was always directed to how they and their actions would affect the community and how they could best serve the citizens of Merrimack,” said Doyle. “Ed knew and exemplified the value of the importance of being connected to the community.”
Pane grew up and attended school in Merrimack before working for the police department. He also resided in Merrimack for many years until recently relocating to Bedford.
On Tuesday, members of the police force joined some of the staff members at Thorntons Ferry Elementary School to complete the ALS ice bucket challenge still sweeping social media sites. The challenge, where individuals dump ice cold water onto their heads and nominate others to do the same, is helping to raise awareness of ALS while collecting funds to assist with research and possibly find a cure for the progressive neurodegenerative disease that claimed Pane’s life.