Former Jeannette Police Chief served family, community |

Former Jeannette Police Chief served family, community


William Drylie was shot by a suspect when he was a Jeannette police officer in the early 1980s.

He didn’t let that stop him.

The bullet passed by his liver, missing all his vital organs.

“Even though he was shot, he still apprehended the guy, handcuffed him and sat on him,” said his daughter, Christina Harris.

Mr. Drylie was laid up in the hospital for a while, but he went on to make a full recovery, returning to the force for almost two more decades and eventually becoming police chief.

William F. Drylie, 74, of Jeannette, died Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in UPMC Mercy Hospital.

He was born Nov. 25, 1943 in Greensburg to the late Homer F. and Johanna J. (Demark) Drylie.

He served in Vietnam as a Navy medic and, upon his return to the United States, worked in several Pennsylvania hospitals until he became a police officer.

“He was always looking to help others,” said his daughter, Debra Stiffey.

After his retirement, he stayed active in the community, part of the American Legion and Fraternal Order of Police, and as a high-ranking member of the Jeannette Masonic Lodge.

Whenever he went out for breakfast, he’d always find someone at the diner who wanted to strike up a conversation.

“Everyone in that restaurant would know who he was, and would want to stop and say hello to him,” Harris said. “He was just someone who was well-known and well-respected.”

He enjoyed hunting, fishing and golfing. Most of all, he enjoyed spending time with his many grandchildren.

Stiffey said she recalls going on a fishing trip with her dad and her son.

“I can see them, on the end of the pier, holding their fishing rods and the fish they caught that day,” she said. “And I can just remember the look on his face, and the look on my son’s face.”

He always had a wise word for his family, Stiffey said.

“Anytime I needed advice, he was there to guide me, and to guide my kids, in the right direction,” she said.

Mr. Drylie is survived by his wife, Donna (McIlvaine), of Jeannette; children, Christina Harris and husband Matt, Debra Stiffey and husband Randy, Jon, Dan and wife Sandy, Deidre Diffenderfer, Dana Campbell and Cathy Harbaugh and husband Joe; 17 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

All services were private. Mason-Gelder Funeral Home, Jeannette, handled the arrangements.

Memorial donations may be made to Myasthenia Gravis Association of Western Pennsylvania, 490 E. North Ave., Suite 410, Pittsburgh, PA 15212,

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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