LIMA — Lima Patrolman William F. Brown was shot and killed while on duty 40 years ago, but he is still being remembered by Lima residents today.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Neighborhood Association hosted an event to commemorate five Lima police officers who have been killed while on duty with a tree-planting ceremony on Saturday.
The ceremony, held in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center Park on Eighth Street in Lima, remembered Patrolman Brown (who died Jan. 5, 1974), Patrolman Charles C. Bozeman (died Dec. 10, 1951), Detective Charles E. Hefner (died Feb. 27, 1951), Patrolman Phillip Droesch (died Oct. 25, 1918) and Patrolman Phillip Goeble (no date of death).
“After this many years you think no one cares but they still do,” said Phyllis Brown, Brown’s widow who attended the ceremony with her daughter, Tracy Koenig.
The two were the only relatives of a fallen officer at the event and said they found out about it Friday, when Koenig’s husband, a retired Lima police officer, got a call from Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin, notifying him about the event.
About 20 people attended the event, which included remarks by Lima Mayor David Berger, Martin and Koenig, as well as the lighting of a candle, a Scripture reading, the tree planting and prayer.
“It was nice,” Koenig said.
Brown said it’s nice that in this day and age, with the fast pace of the world, people are still stopping to remember fallen officers.
“It is not the problem, it is not the criminal element that makes our city what it is, but it is people who care, it is people who want to do the right thing,” Martin said. “And frankly it’s people who appreciate law enforcement more than we will often appreciate or remember, so this is a good reminder of that.”
Jacqueline Tyre, secretary of the neighborhood association, said the ceremony and tree planting correlate with the group’s mission.
“Part of our mission statement is to beautify the community and ensure safety,” she said. This is “in their honor for the safety they tried to provide.”
Martin incorporated a quote from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address into his remarks, regarding fallen union soldiers, adding that the words still apply today.
“‘The world will little know or long remember what we say here but it cannot forget what they did,’” he said.
Brown was happy people still remembered her husband, and said she and her daughter will come back to the site to see the tree again.
“After all the years that have gone by, people have still not forgotten,” Brown said. “I guess they didn’t die in vain.”