Wendy Kierstead, 64: Female police officer was expert analyst, role model

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TOPSHAM — Wendy (Newell) Kierstead, 64, died at her home in Topsham on Nov. 1.

Born in Portland in 1950, she graduated from Gorham High School in 1968 and received a B.F.A. in fashion design from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1971. She went on to attend the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, graduating in 1974.

She was considered a pioneer when in 1975 she joined the Portland Police Department, becoming the department’s first female sworn officer. She served for 15 years on street patrol, and as a crime analyst for 11 years. In 1999, she joined the Brunswick Police Department as a crime analyst, and served in that role for seven years.

Among her distinctions, Kierstead received a commendatory memorandum in 1983 for her work with elderly citizens in Portland, a commendatory memorandum in 1984 for her heroism in evacuating a resident from a burning building, and in 1976, a personal letter of recognition from the director of the FBI for assistance in a bombing investigation. In 1998, she was certified at the highest level by the Society of Certified Crime Analysts.

For six years, Kierstead worked providing state-wide police intelligence while based in Androscoggin County. She had extensive knowledge of weapons, and published a well-known police manual on their use and concealment. Over the years, she also became a mentor for other women in law enforcement.

After retiring from police work, Kierstead had served as an associate broker with the Brunswick office of the Maine Real Estate Network.

She was predeceased by her husband, Richard Kierstead, in 1989; her father, Ralph E. Newell, 1999; and her mother, Geraldine Travi, in 2004.

She is survived by two brothers, Ralph E. Newell, of Old Orchard Beach, and Robert A. Newell and wife, Trudy, of Derry, New Hampshire; stepchildren, Laurie Joseph, of Tuscon, Arizona, and Matthew Kierstead, of Green Valley, Arizona; mother-in-law, Ruth Kierstead, of Wiscasset; brother-in-law, Remon Lapid, and wife, Nancy, of Chatham, New Jersey; nieces, Jessica Leonard, of Tuscon, Arizona, Emily Newell, of Dexter, Ellen Newell, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Kimberly Gore, of Windham, New Hampshire, and Kelly Halbach, of Raymond, New Hampshire; nephew, Seth G. Newell, of Manchester, New Hampshire; and many great-nieces and great-nephews.

Visitation and a time of remembrance were held Nov. 7 at Stetson’s Funeral Home, in Brunswick. Burial was on Nov. 8 at Evergreen Cemetery, in Portland.

Donations in Kierstead’s memory may be made to the union for one’s local police department.

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