When Altoona Police Chief Janice Freehling was a new officer, then-veteran cop and ex-Marine John Treese was gruff - and skeptical about having a female on the force.
"I used to steer clear," Freehling said. "For several years, I was probably afraid of him."
Then Freehling got promoted and began working with Treese - a little at first, then more, when she became lieutenant of patrol and captain, as Treese became captain, then chief.
Not only did Freehling find that Treese "wasn't the gruff Marine through-and-through," but he was funny and a kidder.
He was also open-minded enough to mentor her and, upon retirement, to recommend her as his successor.
"He looked at people's abilities," not their gender, said Freehling, the first-ever female chief in the department and at the time of her appointment, one of only a handful of female chiefs in Pennsylvania.
Treese - a prototypical Irish cop, according to his predecessor John Reilly, who nevertheless ended up pushing the department in a progressive direction - died Monday at 73. Please see obituary, Page A7.
In keeping with the tough image he projected, he would frequently tell Freehling that he ran his own household.
"He went on and on about that," Freehling said.
But once, when Freehling had to call him at home on a Saturday, his young grandson Michael answered, and when she asked for "the chief," she could hear him yell for "Gram."
Gram was Treese's wife, Carole - whose sickness in recent times "ripped his soul out," according to their son Patrick.
Carole asked Michael who was calling, and Michael told her, and she told him the call was really for "Pap."
When "Pap" got on the phone, Freehling let him have it.
"Now I have proof who runs the household," she said. "I had him that day."
Also in keeping with the tough image, Treese once told Freehling - when she had a torn tendon in her foot - that there was "no such thing as pain."
It's all in your mind, he said.
That phrase became a semi-comic touchstone between them.
Someone would complain, and she'd say "it's all in your head."
But a couple years before Treese retired, he had surgery, and when Freehling went to visit him, he said, "You know, Freehling, I do realize there's such a thing as pain."
"Over the years, I bonded with Chief Treese," she said.
'He was fair'
Treese really was tough - an "old school policeman," said Randy Feathers, regional director for the state Attorney General's office in State College.
Once when Three Rivers Stadium was new, Treese was walking out with his son, Patrick, amid shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, and someone spit on him from above, Patrick Treese said.
He looked up and said, "'If I get up there and catch you, I'll throw you off that bridge,'" his son said.
But he was also a good teacher, said Feathers, who joined the force in 1982.
Proof of that is in the successful careers of the young officers he supervised at the time, including Feathers himself; Reilly, now director of police services for the Altoona Area School District; Blair County Sheriff Mitchell Cooper; AG agents Tony Sassano and Dusty Young; and Blair Township Police Chief Roger White, Feathers said.
Treese taught them all to treat people fairly and to give respect, Feathers said.
"You get respect back," Feathers said.
But he didn't put up with slacking.
Feathers learned that while walking his downtown beat one day without the required hat.
"My hat was on all the time after that," Feathers said.
As chief, it wasn't all positive, however, Patrick Treese said.
He had to deal with "a lot of bureaucracy," the son said.
"There were a lot of politics involved," he said.
He wasn't always popular.
He let subordinates know when they screwed up - although he did it "internally," not through the media, Patrick Treese said.
Ultimately he did what he believed was best for the force and for the city.
He was at peace with his performance, his son said.
He was proud, honest, stern and "above all, he was fair," he said.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Thursday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.