An honor guard stood watch May 4, the 60th anniversary of the death of Wellington police officer Edmund Smith, who was remembered with a candlelight vigil.
Smith was shot and killed on May 4, 1957, after responding to a domestic disturbance. He is the last Wellington officer to fall in the line of duty.
“This man is a hero and will always be a hero,” police chief Tim Barfield told a crowd huddled in the Howk Memorial Park gazebo. “He does what all the people who criticize police don’t realize — put his life on the line for total strangers. He did it that day. He was trying to protect someone and died. His daughters remain very close to us and none of us will ever forget. Sometimes we forget the price that’s been paid for the things we have.”
Smith’s daughters, Connie Buckland and Marcia Crawford, expressed gratitude to their father and observers who attended in cold and rainy conditions.
“It definitely brings back memories,” said Buckland. “A lot of the people that knew my dad are no longer here, but parents have told their kids and they remember. I’ve made new friends who remember being told about it. So people do remember. What chief Barfield and the village have done here is wonderful.”
“It’s special and humbling that people remember,” said Crawford. “The village of Wellington remembers what’s important.”
Mayor Hans Schneider stressed the importance of continuing to recount Smith’s heroics to future generations.
“We cannot forget this,” he said. “The chief and the department have taken it on themselves to make sure of that. With events like this, it lets the family know we recognize their sacrifice. All of our safety service officers, and Edmund Smith particularly, are heroes. They’re ordinary people put in extraordinary situations. They make selfless decisions. Moving forward, it’s vital we look at the importance of making that kind of sacrifice for people you don’t even know.”
Pastor Paul Wilson of First United Methodist Church closed the ceremony with a prayer.
“Edmund Smith lost his life protecting a battered woman,” he said. “He’s a hero for giving his life in service of our community. There’s no greater friendship than laying one’s life down for another. In that, Edmund Smith remains our friend. Police officers put their lives on the line every day for our sake, even in the face of rejection by some. We also remain thankful for fellow officers across Wellington and across this great nation.”
Wellington police will join area officers May 11 at the annual Lorain County Police Memorial Service, commencing at 11:30 a.m. in Lorain High School’s Performing Arts Center, 2600 Ashland Ave.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.