Russell “Rusty” Serpa, 74, of Bristol

Posted 2/5/20

Russell “Rusty” Serpa (Chief of Police, Bristol Police Dept., Ret.), 74, of Bristol, passed away Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, at the Hope Hospice & Palliative Care in Providence, R.I. Born …

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Russell “Rusty” Serpa, 74, of Bristol


Russell “Rusty” Serpa (Chief of Police, Bristol Police Dept., Ret.), 74, of Bristol, passed away Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, at the Hope Hospice & Palliative Care in Providence, R.I. Born in Fall River, Mass., he was the son of the late Joseph P. and Virginia (Gaffney) Serpa and husband of Lydia (Neves) for 41 years.

Rusty was a Sergeant in the United States Army, serving in the Republic of Viet Nam 1965-1966. After leaving the service, he joined the Bristol Police Department, where he served the Town of Bristol for 39 years, 12 as the Chief of Police.

Rusty’s greatest accomplishment was bringing the Bristol Police Department in line with professional standards by working for and obtaining national accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). 

During his service to the town, he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Law Enforcement and a Master’s degree in Business, both from Salve Regina College. He attended the prestigious FBI National Academy, a command level leadership program, in 1989. He attended the Babson College command leadership and management courses as well as the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association.

He was the President of the Rhode Island Chiefs of Police Association in 2005, the President of both the Rhode Island Chapter and New England Chapter of the FBI National Associates.

In 2005, he was the 220th Chief Marshal of the Bristol Fourth of July parade. He was also the chief marshal for the Memorial Day parade and the Bristol Recreation children’s parade.

Rusty was a board member and president of the Board of Directors for the East Bay Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization providing affordable housing.

Rusty was a life member of the Disabled American Veterans, a social member in the Bristol Fire Department (Hydraulions), a member and past treasurer of the Elks, a member of the Bristol Rotary Club, the Prince Henry Club, Cup Defenders Association, the Tiverton Rod and Gun Club and the Columbus Square House.

As a golfer, he was member of the Montaup Country Club.

He and his wife Lydia, have two sons, Russell Jr. and Christopher (Alex), two granddaughters, Mila Mae and Rowan Walker Serpa, brother James (Sylvia) and was preceded in death by his brother Joseph and sister Virginia.

His funeral services were held Feb. 5 from the GEORGE LIMA FUNERAL HOME, with a Mass of Christian Burial celebrated by Rev. Jared Costanza at St. Mary’s Church. Liturgical readings were by Jill Waldman and Tracie Mederos. The Prayer of the Faithful was read by Steve Contente, and the offertory gifts were presented by Janet Calderiso and Diane Mederos.

The eulogies were given by Joseph Parella and Diane Mederos. Burial with Military Honors followed in St. Mary’s Cemetery. Serving as pallbearers were Anthony Mederos, Matthew Calderiso, Robert McKenna, Robert Martin, John Moss and Robert Braun.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to: the American Lung Association, 200 W. Exchange Street, Providence, RI 02903 or Hope Health Hospice & Palliative Care, 1085 North Main St., Providence, RI  02904.

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