The WA Police Union were saddened to hear of the passing of two of our life members, Retired Superintendent John Foley (2908) and Retired Sergeant Denis Hayden (5334).
These officers were dedicated to not only their police careers but also WAPU, each man serving as a branch official, director and executive office holder over many years.
Rtd Supt Foley was our first-ever Vice President, and Rtd Sgt Hayden was the first-ever Senior Vice President and Emergency Director seconded to us in a permanent position.
WAPU present the accolade of life membership to members whose exceptional, loyal and outstanding service has contributed to the provision of significant benefits to our union.
We spoke with the families of our late life members, both of whom leave honourable legacies.

Retired Superintendent John Foley (2908)


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When WAPU life member Rtd Supt John Foley (2908) passed away in July, it was a loss felt heavily across his community.
In his 94 years, John touched the lives of those people who knew him personally and those people whom he met on the job.
John’s son, Detective Inspector Peter Foley, told Police News
his father described his life as a “journey of interest.”
“Dad lived a full, rewarding and eventful 94 years,” he said.
John’s parents instilled a strong and deep faith into their first-born son, a religious conviction that was the foundation on which he built his life, both personally and professionally.
In 1946, John joined the St Vincent de Paul Society WA’s North Perth/Highgate Conference. It was the genesis of his 75- year commitment to making a positive contribution to society.
John’s charitable service to the St Vincent de Paul Society WA was a constant throughout his adult life, and it was through the church he met his wife, Eileen.
Det Insp Foley said his father loved not only his wife but also sport, particularly footy.
“Dad was a good athlete in his youth, and he loved following the sporting pursuits and football journey of his siblings, his sons and then his grandchildren,” he said.
“Rain, hail or shine, Dad’s booming voice would carry across the field, with a not-so-subtle nudge from Mum to quieten down.”
Det Insp Foley said his father was the greatest role model to him and his siblings.
“We’ll be forever grateful for everything Dad’s done for our family in providing us with a wonderful roadmap to follow,” he said.
“If we can do it half as well as Dad did in his lifetime, we’ll have succeeded.”
In 1955, John enlisted in the WA Police Force.
Transfers early in John’s police career resulted in him working in several regional areas, with stints at the Narrogin, Kalgoorlie, Laverton, Norseman and Esperance stations as a young officer.
In 1961, John married Eileen, by which time he had returned from the Goldfields-Esperance region to base himself at North Perth Police Station.
John rose through the WA Police Force’s ranks, serving as an inspector, chief inspector and superintendent before retiring from Perth Regional Office in 1987.
Det Insp Foley said his father’s ingrained values of faith and compassion were prevalent through both his professional work as a police officer and his personal work as a volunteer.
“Dad was instrumental in starting the Police Community and Youth Centres (PCYC) in Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie, granting opportunities to disadvantaged people that other people took for granted,” he said.
“Dad also supported the Scarborough PCYC throughout his career and well into his retirement.”
John’s dedication to his family, his friends and his employers was only matched by his commitment to WAPU.
As a WAPU member, John progressed from branch official to director, ultimately becoming our first Vice President when we created that office in 1984.
In 1985, WAPU awarded what was then only our second life membership to John.
“Dad’s membership of the union was based on enhancing the welfare of police officers while gaining well-earned benefits, some of which Steve, Julie and I still enjoy today as members of the force,” said Det Insp Foley.
“When Dad left the WA Police Force, he took with him lasting friendships, not only with officers who were his peers but also officers whom he’d supervised. These friendships extended to numerous people whom he’d met through his travels across the state.”
Det Insp Foley said his father’s dedication to community service did not stop when he hung up his police uniform after 32 years as one of the brave men and women in blue.
John was a loving husband to Eileen for 52 years, a proud father of five sons and a doting grandfather to 11 grandchildren. “In his retirement, Dad watched his family grow with all of his boys getting married. Then followed many grandchildren,
all of whom he loved and adored,” said Det Insp Foley.
“Dad took great interest and pride in their lives, careers and achievements, always giving guidance and advice to them along the way.”
John’s favourite saying was ‘never give up’ and it was one by which he lived.
Det Insp Foley said his father left with a simple legacy to follow. “Family, your faith, friends and compassion for others comes first. Integrity, ethics and fairness were central to Dad’s life, which
he promoted at every opportunity,” he said.
“He’ll remain a role model to all of us and he’ll be greatly missed. “Rest peacefully now Dad, you deserved it." 


Denis Hayden


Retired Sergeant Denis Hayden (5334)

A devoted family man, a loving and warm husband and a passionate police officer.
Rtd Sgt Denis Hayden (5334), who passed away in August, was a fun-loving man with a wicked sense of humour.
Denis’s wife, Judy, told Police News her husband was a loyal and generous guy who would give you the shirt off his back.
“Anyone who knew Denis would agree he was a bit of a larrikin who loved to play practical jokes and have a good party,” she said. “But there was also a serious side to Denis. He possessed
a strong sense of justice and was always supportive of the underdog. As a police officer and a family man, he was passionate about the well-being of others, in particular his work colleagues.
Judy said her husband loved being a police officer and felt similarly about his bikes.
“Denis loved being a part of the police family and was passionate about policing and helping people,” she said.
“The fact that he was in the job for 43 years is proof of that. After he retired, he would often say that he’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.”
July said an incident in her husband’s youth sparked his interest in becoming a police officer.
“Denis had assisted in the arrest of a criminal and the arresting officer said he’d make a good policeman. The rest is history,the compliment always stayed with him and was his impetus for getting into law enforcement,” she said.
“He became a traffic inspector in 1974 for the Shire of Plantagenet and when the Road Traffic Authority came into being in 1975, he joined and became a police traffic officer. In 1976, he chose to enrol at the Police Academy to further his policing studies and so he could join other areas of the force.”
Denis held several positions in regional and metropolitan areas and worked across a range of portfolios in traffic during his decorated career.
He was also a qualified motorcycle pursuit rider and pursuit driver, something of which he was extremely proud.
Judy said her husband’s career highlights included the hard- hitting presentations he delivered to school students in which he spoke about the impacts of losing a family member to a drug overdose. It was deeply personal for Denis, whose daughter died from a drug overdose in August 1997.
At the time of Denis’s retirement in 2018, he was the last remaining shire traffic inspector in the WA Police Force.
Judy said her husband was proud of his involvement with WAPU, having held several union positions across multiple branches before deciding to nominate for the Board of Directors. “After being severely injured on duty, Denis received little
to no support from the WA Police Force. His experience had a major impact on his desire to ensure his fellow officers injured while working were looked after by the WA Police Union and the force,” she said.
In 1996, WAPU members elected Denis to our Board of Directors. In 2009, Denis became the first Senior Vice President and
Emergency Director seconded to us in a permanent position.
Judy said her husband was thrilled when he received life membership of WAPU.
“That was an extremely proud and unexpected moment for Denis, especially as the honour had been given to so few people,” she said.
“Denis was always proud of the role he’d played in the union’s achievements while he was a board member and emergency director. The working conditions and the welfare of his colleagues and others was one of his biggest priorities.”
Judy said any officer who worked with her husband will tell you that he was dedicated, hard-working, caring, supportive and always put their well-being above his own.
She said her husband’s legacy was simple.
“Denis believed anyone could rise above adversity and be anything they wanted to be,” she said. “That’s what Denis did, and what he advocated other people to do.”

By Jessica Cuthbert