After 49 Years, A Monument for Slain Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit
Officer J.D. Tippit came home for lunch on November 22, 1963. He rarely ever had time to leave his patrol long enough to do that, and his wife, Marie, scrambled to fix him a turkey sandwich and set the table.
Image via Brad Watson Tippitt's family at his new memorial
"I got to see him one last time," she said today. Marie is petite, white-haired and a little frail now, so soft-spoken the crowd of reporters around her had to bend to hear every word.
Her husband didn't come home from his beat in south Oak Cliff later that afternoon, or ever again. Forty-nine year later, Marie is still thankful they had the chance for a last meal together.
Someone asked her what was the last thing she said to him before he left.
"I told him to be careful," Marie replied, holding back tears. "I told him to take care of himself."
Tippit became a part of history around 1 p.m. that day as he drove down East 10th Street in Oak Cliff. There, near the corner of Patton Avenue, he saw a man who resembled the description he'd just been given over the radio of the suspect who'd shot President John F. Kennedy barely an hour earlier.
Tippit pulled up next to the man and said a few words through his open passenger's side window. He started to open his car door and step out of his vehicle. With that, Lee Harvey Oswald quickly pulled out a handgun and shot Tippit three times in the chest. The officer fell and Oswald stood over him, firing a fourth bullet into his head.
A bystander, Temple Bowley, used Tipit's radio to call for help, then helped load the officer into an ambulance to take him to Methodist Hospital. Oswald was captured 45 minutes later at Texas Theatre and taken into custody for Tippit's murder; only later would it become clear that he was indeed Kennedy's assassin. Meanwhile, Tippit was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. He left behind three children: Allen, Brenda, and Curtis. He is buried at Laurel Lane Memorial Park.
Bowley was honored at a ceremony in 2010, which Marie also attended. But there was still no marker for Tippitt at the spot where he fell, no official recognition of the other man who lost his life that day. WFAA reporter Brad Watson began pushing for such a monument back in 2010 , leading Michael Ammonett, then the president of Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, to apply for a monument from the Texas Historical Commission.
That monument was finally unveiled today, at a ceremony attended by Marie and other members of the Tippit family, as well as Dallas Police Chief David Brown. The corner of 10th Street and Patton Avenue is now part of the Adamson High School Campus; the ceremony was also attended by Eric Cowan, the DISD trustee for that area, and Delia Jasso, the City Council member.
"There is no greater love than this, that a man would lay down his life for his fellow man," Brown told the audience, as Marie wiped away tears. A few moments later, she took the podium, and briefly thanked the crowd for coming.
"He died just a few steps away from here, doing his job," she said. "He never knew his sacrifice would lead to the capture of a presidential assassin. This means so much."