Roger W. Nunkester, of Berwick, passed away at the Berwick hospital with his loving wife Luann at his side. He had been fighting cancer since February 2019.
Born at the Berwick Hospital, Roger was the son of the late Auburn and Ruth (Aul) Nunkester. He was a Berwick High School graduate. In his teen years Roger worked at Clewell’s Creamery, helping deliver dairy products to local grocery chains and restaurants within the Berwick area. He briefly worked for BerconPackaging packing plastic milk cartons.
After graduating from high school Roger joined the Marines. He did his boot camp in Parris Island, SC. From there he did an additional four weeks of field training at Camp Geiger, NC. His job assignment (MOS) was to become a driver in Motor Transport. While stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC Roger’s battalion was in training at Vieques, Puerto Rico when they were airlifted to Guantanamo Bay when President Kennedy ordered the blockade of Cuba. Shortly after returning back to the states, he was transferred to Marine Barrack’s, Washington, DC. Little did Roger know that it wouldn’t be long before he played a small part in history. On November 22, 1963, he was transporting a platoon of Marines on his bus to Camp David, MD, to change the guard at the President’s summer retreat. On his way back into the city it was clear to him that something newsworthy had taken place as he noticed newsboys on every other corner waving their newspapers to be sold at every passing motorist. Roger stopped, opened the doors of his busand asked, what’s going on? “Kennedy’s been shot!”was the boy’s answer. Making his way back to the Barrack’s Roger was quickly told to change into the uniform of the day, go down to Guard Company and pick up a group of body bearers and take them to Grawler’s Funeral home on Wisconsin Avenue. After spending hours waiting there, Roger was directed to take his unit of Marines to Bethesda Naval Hospital where the President’s remains were taken. Sometime in the middle of the night the procession of military vehicles made its way to the White House where the President lied in state. Roger and his Marine Corp bus were parked on a small roadway on the south lawn of the White House until a relief driver allowed him to return to the barracks. Roger’s final months of duty was spent in Quantico, VA., where he was honorably discharged with the rank of Lance Corporal.
Roger remained in the Washington DC area for the next 6 years driving bus for the Alexandria, Barcroft and Washington Transit Company, it was during this time Roger became a loyal Washington Redskins fan. During NFL season his AB & W transit company employer would provide transportation from various locations in the Virginia DC suburbs to RFK stadium for their home games. Bus drivers at that time were allowed standing room only privileges at no cost. Roger also worked for his transit company as a tour guide during high tourist season. He had the honor of lecturing a Berwick High School business class on a tour of their Nation’s capital.
Roger moved back to his hometown and for several years worked at Lady Esther Lingerie Co. as a cutter. In 1976 he took the test to become a police officer in Berwick and was hired. He began his 12 week course of instruction in April of that year. Upon his graduation his fellow classmates voted Roger to be speaker of the class and to give the graduation speech. He spoke of what each letter in the word P-O-L-I-C-E O-F-F-I-C-E-R meant to him. Character traits such as Pride, Obedience, Loyalty, Involvement, Chief, and Example stood for the letters in Police and Outstanding, Faithful, Freedoms, Interests, Capable, Enthusiasm and Respect were for the word Officer. Throughout his life Roger exhibited all these traits. In 1981 he was appointed to the rank of Sergeant and was the ranking officer in charge of the midnight shift. In 1987 he was assigned to be part of a joint task force to investigate three homicides that had occurred in Berwick. He and two other Berwick officers teamed up with six Pennsylvania State Police officers to investigate the crimes. All three homicides were solved. In 2002 Roger was asked to speak along with firemen, emergency responders and other dignitaries at the one year anniversary of the September 11th tragedies. Roger was appointed Chief of Police in 2003, retiring as Chief in December of 2004.
Roger always had a strong sense of community and family; he was a member of both the Elks and the Fraternal Order of Police. He enjoyed golfing and frequently was involved with several charitable tournaments held at one of the many local courses. After his retirement you could find him with his puzzle buddies down at Georgie’s Bagels shop every morning without fail.
Roger is survived by his wife the former Luann Miller, who he married on May 9th, 1998, his son Roger Jr. and wife Maria of Elysburg, PA, his son Jason Miller and wife Katrina of Plattsburgh, NY, his granddaughter Kristin Nunkester of Groton, CT, and step grandchildren Aedan and Brilyn.
Besides his parents, he we preceded in death by his faithful collie Sheba and his beloved Aunt Kye, Helen Lanning.
A viewing will be held at the James L. Hinckley Funeral Home and Cremation Services Inc, 1024 North Market Street Berwick on Monday October 11th, 2021 from 5pm-7pm. Services will be held at the funeral home on Tuesday October 12th, 2021 at 10am. Burial to follow at Pine Grove Cemetery on Walnut Street in Berwick. For anyone who wants to attend, there will be a celebration of lifedinner following the burial at The Forge Pub and Eatery located at 112 West Eleventh St. Berwick.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to cancer research to help stop this terrible disease.
Family and friends may send online condolences to jameslhinckleyjrfuneralhome.com.
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