Community mourns loss of Nafis
Nafis, 55, dead at home Sunday
BY JENNIFER JEAN MILLER
SPARTA — The Sparta community is mourning the passing of retired Sparta Police Lt. Jeffrey R. Nafis, with the police department learning the news of his passing on Sunday, June 22.
Nafis died suddenly at his Sparta home of natural causes. He was 55.
Nafis was born in Huntington, New York on April 1, 1959 to Charlotte and Donald Nafis, and has mostly been a lifelong Sparta resident. He graduated from Sparta High School in 1977, before heading off to serve with the United States Marine Corps.
Upon his return to Sparta, Nafis commenced his service with the Sparta Township Police Department in Feb. 1986.
In April of that year, Nafis also started his business, Nafis Lock Safe and Security LLC, a business that he maintained until his death. He earned qualifications as a certified master locksmith, and was a member of the International Association of Investigative Locksmiths and the Associated Locksmiths of America. Nafis was a teacher in the trade, teaching seminars on the subject.
Nafis moved to the Detective Bureau in Sept. 1991, eventually garnering the position of Detective Sergeant. He was promoted to Lieutenant in Oct. 1995, and served as Administrative Commander until his retirement in 2012.
Dave Szatkiewicz, a retired Andover Township Police Officer, first met Nafis in 1991.
“I was immediately impressed with what a gentleman he was, and how he carried himself,” Szatkiewicz said. “He spoke softly despite his large frame. At the time, I had been a police officer for over 10 years, and I knew that Jeff was going to go far in his law enforcement career.”
Szatkiewicz said he watched Nafis rise in the rank of second in command of the department.
“I’m certain he would have been an awesome chief,” he said.
He was an active member of the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Newton. Services were coordinated for Nafis at Goble Funeral Home on Wednesday in Sparta, and Redeemer Lutheran on Thursday.
He is survived by his wife, Moe; his children Shawn, Jamie, Rob, Kayla, Alan and Lauren; brothers Andy and George; sisters-in-law Elizabeth and Joan; niece Hope; nephew Donnie; cousin Tara; and uncle George.
Szatkiewicz, who retired two years prior to Nafis, said he last ran into Nafis at the Stop and Shop in Sparta, where the two caught up and chatted for over an hour.
“[Nafis] was always so positive that it was truly great to be around him,” Szatkiewicz said. “I was very sorry when I first heard the terrible news of his untimely passing on Sunday. I have many wonderful memories of him, and am sad that he didn’t get to enjoy a well-deserved long retirement with his wife and children. I pray that he is in a better place and rests in peace. Godspeed, my brother.”
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