Officer Remembered as Good Friend, Dedicated Public Servant
Stephen Haberle, an Upper Nazareth Township police officer, will be laid to rest Saturday; he succumbed to skin cancer at 49.
Stephen Haberle was “a guy you could count on.”
That's how Officer Tyson Unangst remembers his long-time friend and fellow officer.
Haberle, 49, an Upper Nazareth Township police officer, died Sept. 14 after a six-year struggle with melanoma -- the most serious type of skin cancer.
Haberle kept working until late last year, according to Unangst, even as he dealt with side effects from treatments and medications.
“He didn't pack it in, he fought it,” Unangst said. “He was a very strong person.”
Haberle had served as Unangst's first trainer when he joined the force, and the men became friends on and off the job; the friendship stayed strong even after Unangst left Upper Nazareth to serve and protect in Palmer Township.
“He was always there for me,” Unangst said. “He was always thinking of everybody else.”
Haberle's commitment and dedication impressed colleagues outside of the police department, too.
Mike Rinker, chairman of the Upper Nazareth Township Board of Supervisors and a Northampton County emergency dispatcher, knew Haberle since 1999. Rinker described the Bushkill Township resident and Nazareth Area High School graduate as “a popular guy... who always went above and beyond.”
Unangst shared fond memories of his friend three days after his passing. He recalled how Haberle would check on Unangst's family several times a week -- especially during trying times -- as the family dealt with serious health issues.
Unangst also noted that Haberle was one of the first people he called when both of his children were born.
“He was there for the happiest times and the trying times,” Unangst said.
Haberle worked with Nazareth Area School District students while Unangst served as the district's first school resource officer.
Haberle enjoyed sharing the knowledge and experience he acquired over many years on the job, Unangst said.
“If you had a question, you could call him outside of work,” he added. “He was very knowledgeable.”
Haberle was well-known and well-liked throughout the community, Unangst said, noting that when the two officers worked together on special duty at sporting events, Haberle “couldn't go more than three steps without someone coming up and asking him how he and his family were.”
Unangst described Haberle as “very family-oriented” and noted that his roots run deep in the greater Nazareth area -- where he grew up. Unangst recalled how his friend invited him to share family dinners with the Haberles when the two officers worked on Christmas.
Haberle had also worked part-time as a police officer for the boroughs of Nazareth, Wilson and Bath.
According to his obituary, he is survived by his wife, Joni, and his son, Stephen Jr., as well as his parents and siblings.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Saturday at St. Rocco's Roman Catholic Church in Martins Creek.