Patrick V. Needham was my father. He was a U.S. Army veteran and a Chicago cop. He was a good guy who passed away too young.

It occurred to me earlier this year that as of now, I've already lived longer than my dad did. That gives one an idea of how young Patrick was when he passed away.

In an effort to preserve his memory, I went looking this week on the Chicago Tribune website for articles about Patrick. I remembered that there were several articles that mentioned my old my when I was a kid, growing up. It is possible that some of my younger siblings missed these. My kids never met Patrick and I wanted them to know a little bit about him too.

Below is what I found.

First link: 1961-a.pdf

This is from January 1, 1961. Chicago Policie Superintendent O.W. Wilson promoted these patrolmen to sergeant, Included on the list was Patrick Needham, promoted to Crime Prevention.

Joe Mildice appears on this list; I'll mention him again later in this post. Also on this list in Richard (Dick) Rochford, a great, great friend of my dad's, whose kids I grew up with. Dick Rochford's brother Jim would later be named Police Superintendent by the first Mayor Daley.

Next: 1962-a.pdf

In 1962 Patrick Needham was promoted to captain on the Chicago Police Department. Also in this list, interestingly enough, is my dad's friend John Mulchrone, who later was a hog broker on the floor at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) when I was a deckholder in the back-month hog pit. This was circa 1983.

In 1966 (1966-a.pdf) Patrick left for the United Kingdom where he was the first American to study at Bramshill Police Staff College. This piece from the Tribune is interesting since it includes a very grainy, old photo of my dad and the family, circa 1965, which includes a 5-year-old John P. Needham. So, if one wanted to see what I looked like as a wee lad, this would be the place to go see it.

Also from 1996 (1966-b.pdf) is this article about Patrick's graduation from Bramshill.

"He's been a wonderful ambassador," said the college administrator, Supt. Fred Tilling. To his colleagues, Needham has become "our Pat."


That link also includes a picture of a very young Patrick Needham.

Next up: In 1970 Patrick was appointed by Superintendent James Conlisk to the role of Deputy Superintendent of the Bureau of Administrative Services. Also promoted at this time were Jack Killackey, Earl Johnson, Ed Dobbs, James O'Grady, Fred Rice, and Joe Mildice, all names of cops that I heard about growing up.

In October, 1971, the Tribune published a story about the week in the life of two Chicago cops. The article pointed out how hard the job was in the early 70's - it is much harder today, I'm sure - and quoted my dad about how many men in Chicago still wanted the job, back then, despite the risks.

This May, 1972 Tribune article describes the police training at the time and includes a quote from Patrick, along with another picture of a very young police captain.

From August 20, 1973: "Is our police department biased?"

"Deputy Police Supt. Patrick V. Needham has replied to the suit by saying the department 'does not discriminate against any minority in any area.'"
I can recall hearing a radio new report about this lawsuit, and my dad's testimony, where the reporter referred to the testimony as "measured and careful."

Here is a piece of interest, mainly to me, because of one of the names mentioned: 1974-a.pdf Patrick Needham remained the Deputy Supt. of Administrative Services under Superintendent James Rochford. Working for my dad was Finance Director Joseph Mildice, who once was a pro wrestler under the pseudonym "Tiny Joe Mills."

In October, 1977, a little more than a year after the death of the original Mayor Daley, and under Mayor Bilandic, Supt. Rochford resigned. Possible successors included:

"Patrick V. Needham, 44, deputy superintendent in charge of the Bureau of Administrative Services. He said he will "talk to Spiotto" before making any plans."


Later that month: "2 'super-clean' top cops eyed as Rochford's successor" Patrick was one, James O'Grady was the other. My dad and O'Grady were friends. My belief and recollection from that time is that neither would resent it if the other was appointed.

In April, 1978 Superintendent O'Grady (appointed by Mayor Bilandic in April 10), retained Patrick as Deputy Superintendent and appointed 33-year Chicago police veteran Sam Nolan 1st Deputy.

By January, 1979, Mayor Bilandic had lost his reelection bid to Jane Byrne and Supt. O'Grady has resigned. Acting Superintendent Nolan shook-up police leadership.

Parick was, at this time, demoted from Deputy Superintendent to commander of the Auto Thefts Division. This was not a good time to be a "Daley Guy" in the Chicago Police Department. Dozens of other senior policie officials were similarly demoted here and in months to come.

In August, 1979, then-acting Superintendent Joseph DiLeonardi executed the third major shake-up in police command structure in less than a year. The Tribune OpEd piece has this to say:

"If [further] shifts occur, we hope some exceptional officers who have just been demoted - including former Deputy Supts. William Hanhardt and Patrick V. Needham - are restored to high rank.


In 1980, the Tribune looked int a police lieutenant who had resigned the force and had later been reinstated. By that time, Patrick Needham was a watch commander in the Jefferson Park police district near our house.

By 1984, Patrick Needham had gone on medical leave from the police department. In November, 1984, he passed away at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. This is what the Tribune wrote at the time.

I still think about my dad a fair amount. I wish he had been around to meet my kids. Hopefully this post will help my kids understand who their grandfather was: Irish Chicago cop, U.S. Army veteran, husband, father, uncle, brother, a really good guy.

As Father's Day, 2012 dawns tomorrow, I'll be thinking of Patrick.

John Needham
Aurora, IL
June 16, 2012