Aunt Dottie’s memorial service yesterday in Red River, NM, was just perfect. The church was full of town folk and police officers from all over the state. The family opened the mic for people to be able to share a few words about Dottie. What was really so great was that with each speaker, each story, Dottie’s personality and life was just brought out in a way that any one speaker could not have done alone. Her ability as a clerk/office administrator and police dispatcher was a main focus. Her calmness in crisis situations, her laughter, her love for wayward boys was brought out with each story – and none of the speeches were planned ahead of time. Different police officers spoke (men I had grown up with) how Dottie was so efficient, so wonderful to work with – one guy said she became known in NM as the "lady who could get things done." But the best story came from Jerry, the town marshal. His story just said it all.
Jerry started out by saying a few nice things about Dottie, but then he said, "She was my protector." He then went on to tell his story. Jerry grew up in RR and got a job as animal control which put him under Dottie’s care. He went on to become a police officer. With very little experience and less than a year out of the academy, he and Dottie were in the office when they got a dispatch. Dottie handed the memo to Jerry saying, "You better read this." Jerry said the memo mentioned a homicide, two suspects, driving a black Monte Carlo, license plate…Jokingly, he told Dottie, "Well, I guess I better get out there and find these guys" and he went out to do his regular patrol. As he was pulling out of the parking lot at Town Hall onto Main Street in RR, a black Monte Carlo, license plates… drove by. Jerry checked it against the dispatch and called Dottie on the radio. His heart just sank knowing that he was the only police officer on duty and knowing what he needed to do. He told Dottie that he was going to follow the car to the edge of town before he engaged them and to get him some back up. He said he quietly followed the Monte Carlo to the edge of town, hit his lights, and put his bumper on their bumper to show that he meant business. He got the driver out of the Monte Carlo and put him in the patrol car. He was about to get the other suspect when he heard the siren. He said relief just flooded his body knowing that backup was on its way. Then when he looked up to see the lights flashing, siren roaring it was not another police car, but it was the town ambulance - with the town manager and the fire marshal driving the ambulance. Jerry said he never felt so happy to see somebody. Dottie had not been able to find another patrolman anywhere close by, but she knew what Jerry needed and met that need the best she could.
I thought that was such a great story. It just exemplified Dottie. It was just so perfect to see these men in their uniforms, quiet and dignified, tears in their eyes, telling how much they loved Dottie, how much she meant to them, how she had trained them, and how she had loved them.