A Jewish police officer who became the NYPD’s first woman sergeant died on Monday of natural causes, the New York Daily News reported. She was 96 years old.
Gertrude Schimmel came from a family of Jewish immigrants from Galicia. She was born in the Bronx and was the youngest of three children. She attended public school and then Hunter College, where she studied English.
Schimmel applied for several city jobs after graduation and took the civil service exam for teacher and police woman. In 1940 she joined the historic class of 18 women, and 300 men, to become part of the NYPD.
Schimmel’s early career was shadowed by sexism as she became the NYPD’s first female sergeant in 1965, and then its first lieutenant two years later. By 1971 she was captain. By the time she retired in 1981 she had risen to become deputy inspector, inspector and then deputy chief, the Daily News reported.
When announcing Schimmel’s death on Monday, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton praised her “very distinguished career” and said she was “a real trend-setter [who broke] a very significant glass ceiling in the department many years ago.” Schimmel’s youngest son, Edward Schimmel, 62, described his mother saying, “Subtle is not a word you would use for her.”
“She was definitely a New Yorker, there was no doubt about it, she always said that she loved the city and was honored to serve it. The city gave her everything from her education through her career,” he said, adding, “She was a typical Jewish mother, except she couldn’t cook.”
Gertrude married Alfred Schimmel and raised Edward along with their eldest son, Victor, in the Bronx. The couple moved to the Upper West Side when she retired. Victor died in 2000 followed by Alfred in 2006.
Schimmel is survived by her son Edward and daughter-in-law Marlene Schimmel, daughter-in-law Syndey Schimmel, 102-year-old sister Frances Weinstein and four grandchildren: Diana Schimmel, Amelia Schimmel, Joanna Schimmel and Gregory Schimmel.
The Schimmel family will announce funeral plans in the coming days.