Police dispatcher succumbs to cancer

MERRIMACK – Michele Dudash’s seat in the Merrimack Police communications center may be filled, but her place in the department will never be taken, friends and officers said this week as they buried one of their own.

After nearly 30 years as a Merrimack dispatcher, Michele Dudash died Nov. 2, succumbing to cancer.

Dudash, 50, first joined the department in the mid-1980s, and she was promoted to the communications department supervisor about 10 years ago.

Throughout that time, Dudash helped coordinate the police response to some of Merrimack’s worst emergencies, according to Chief Mark Doyle.

“When things were happening, phone ringing off the hook, you wouldn’t want anybody else sitting behind that desk,” Doyle said Monday, reflecting on his longtime friend and co-worker.

“She was very efficient, businesslike, and she had that calm demeanor even in the face of the chips being down,” he said. “Somebody like Michelle is a once-in-a-lifetime communications specialist.”

Dudash was first diagnosed with cancer several years ago, but she continued to work during her treatment, staying on until about three weeks ago when the cancer hit its final stages, Doyle said.

“We made it clear if she still wanted to come to work,” he said. “We let her know, as long as she felt up to it, there would be a place for her here.”

Dudash passed away Wednesday night at the community hospice house in Merrimack. She leaves behind three daughters, Kassie, Steph and Kristi; a son, Michael; and a grandson Zachary, according to her obituary.

Her parents, Frances and Judson Edwards, live in Mirror Lake; and her sister, Dana Crowell lives in Chichester.

Outside of work, Dudash enjoyed spending time with her children and grandchildren, according to the obituary. She enjoyed theater, baking and relaxing at Lake Winnipesaukee.

Dudash’s friends and family held a funeral service Sunday, and she was laid to rest Monday in Last Rest Cemetery on Baboosic Lake Road.

“It’s a sad day,” Doyle said Monday afternoon. “Eventually we’ll have to talk about what the next steps are (for replacing her).”

“We’ll look for someone to do the exact same thing she did, somebody who was so dedicated, made the job look effortless,” he said. “It’ll be hard to find. … She was really the foundation of our communications department.”

Jake Berry can be reached at 594-6402 or jberry@nashuatelegraph.com.