“I love you.”
That’s what sisters Marcia Smith Crawford and Connie Smith Buckland would tell their father, Wellington police officer Edmund Smith, if he were alive today.
Eyes brimming with tears, they dedicated his uniform Saturday to the Spirit of ‘76 Museum on South Main Street.
“It’s where it needs to be. It’s a good feeling,” Buckland said.
“I always prayed that someday he would get the recognition that he so deserved, and he has.”
Smith was just 39 years old when he was gunned down on May 4, 1957, while pursuing a suspect from a domestic dispute.
Walter Byomin, 40, of Cleveland, fatally shot Smith near Baker and Maple streets. He was executed for the crime two years later.
The Smith sisters were very young — Connie six and Marcia three — but they remember the day their father died, their mother crying, neighbors gathering around. Connie said Smith would bring home a pack of gum for her every day. When he was killed, a pack of Beeman’s Gum was in his pocket.
“He was easy-going. I don’t think he had a mean-spirited bone in his body,” she said. The Smith sisters described their father as a hunter and fisher liked by everyone he met.
Later, the Smith sisters remember flowers at the funeral home and the governor’s office sending a limousine.
“I was just a very little girl and I don’t remember but a very few things about my father. So I appreciate that people haven’t forgotten. It means a lot to me,” said Marcia, who today resides in New London.
Smith’s uniform hung for years in Connie’s closet in Bowling Green. She said she would take it out and touch it nearly every day “just to be part of him.”
Wellington historian and former police officer Al Leiby told the sisters they are welcome at the museum to touch their father’s uniform whenever they feel the need.
The offer was welcome — Marcia said she has so few objects that both she and her father have touched. Being near the uniform is in a way like being close to him.
Wellington police chief Tim Barfield also attended Saturday’s brief donation ceremony, offering comfort to the Smith sisters.
“We feel like we’re part of a family,” Connie told him.
This past May, Barfield placed an honor guard at a monument in Smith’s honor on the village green. The gesture came on the 58th anniversary of the officer’s death.
The act touched both sisters.
“I would just like to thank all the police officers for all they do every day,” Marcia said.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Photos by Jason Hawk | Wellington Enterprise Sisters Marcia Smith Crawford and Connie Smith Buckland tearfully donate their father’s Wellington police uniform Saturday to the Spirit of ‘76 Museum.