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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

There was a man...

Today is not about food.  Today I'm stepping away from my normal routine to tell you a story about a man.  A man who impacted my life even though I never had the privilege of meeting him.  This is his story:

In Newark, New Jersey, on May 25th, 1922 a baby boy was born.  That baby boy was given the name Robert Michael LaMotta... he would one day become my grandfather.

 (That's my grandfather on the left in front...check out Eisenhower in the car behind him!)

My grandfather, Bobby LaMotta, was a police officer.  He served with the Newark Police Department for 16 years and was assigned to the Traffic Division.  He was a motorcycle cop.  On October 26, 1967, a motorist pulled out in front of my grandfather as he was following two police cars on a call to assist another officer.  He was thrown from his motorcycle and over the car with such force that his helmet flew off, giving him no protection when his head hit the pavement.  He was rushed to Presbyterian Hospital with massive head injuries where he would succumb to those injuries the following day. He was 45 years old.  He died less then a month after my mom turned 21...just 6 years before I was born.  (I unfortunately, never got to meet either one of my grandfathers, both dying far too young.)  My grandmother was left a widow and a single parent in an instant.  Although my mom had just turned 21, her sisters (my aunts) were only 13 and 7.

 (That's my grandfather on the right)

Bobby LaMotta served in the army during WWII.  He was an MP serving in both Alaska and Scottsbluff, Nebraska (talk about two extremes!).  He actually worked in POW camps located there.  That is where he met my grandmother, Phyllis Welch.  She worked as a telephone operator at the POW camp in Scottsbluff, NE.  They married in Scottsbluff on January 6, 1946.  After my grandfather left the army, they moved back to New Jersey, where my grandfather was originally from.  There, they lived a wonderful life together with their three daughters, Sharon, Debbie, and Pam, until his death in 1967.

 (My grandma Phyllis and grandpa Bob on their wedding day) 
(My mom and her father) 
Today, on the anniversary of my grandfather's death, I wanted to write this post to honor him and all of the officers that have fallen in the line of duty.  They do what most will not.  They face perils every day they go to work, never knowing if they will return home.  They keep us safe, while they put their own lives at risk.  I am truly honored to come from a family of police officers.  Not only was my grandfather on the force, but I have an uncle and cousins that are serving even now. I am proud of all of them.  I am honored to know them.

My grandfathers' information is on a site dedicated to fallen officer.  The Officer Down Memorial Page, is an amazing site where you can find information on fallen officers, leave comments and thank yous, donate, and you can even purchase personal keepsakes.  It's a fantastic website that, even just this week, got my mom in touch with a gentleman from the Fraternal Order of Police in New Jersey.


Jenn's Food Journey proudly salutes all officers, fallen and serving - Thank you for all you do!

26 comments:

Angie's Recipes said...

This is something to treasure forever.
Jenn, thanks for sharing something so beautiful and personal.

megan @ whatmegansmaking said...

What a beautiful post. You have a wonderful legacy from your grandfather

Debbie said...

I love this post. What a touching story. I live many years ago in Bayonne NJ and knew many firefighters. Thanks for this touching story. It's nice to read about the person behind the blog and find out things about them.

Sharon said...

I can't begin to express my pride in my daughter, Jenn, for posting such a great tribute to my father & all fallen officers today instead of one of her great recipes. I will be forever grateful for the honor she has given her grandfather. Great job, Jenn!

Cranberry Morning said...

What a touching memorial to your grandfather (and grandmother). A very lovely but sad post. Such a sudden end to such a full life. Thank you for posting this, Jenn. It was a privilege to read about your grandfather.

Anonymous said...

So proud of my niece Jennifer that she has this on her blog today the anniversary of our father and grandfather's death! I was the 13 year old in her story and will always remember the day of the accident. Police officers came to our door when my sister Pam and I were home from school at lunchtime to tell our Mom and take her to the hospital...very scary for a 13 yr. old and a 7 yr old. Needless to say our lives changed forever! I will always remember this day but what a tribute to read and see the pictures I never seem to look at enough! Thanks so much Jennifer for doing this! You have grown up to be an amazing woman and I am so very proud of you! Love you bunches!!!

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

Great post Jenn! Your grandfather would be very proud of you, I'm quite sure :)

Jenn said...

Hey all.. that anonymous comment was left by my Aunt Debbie :)
Thanks go her and my mom for commenting.. Even though this happened so long ago, I know they are still effected by it today!
And thank you to everyone else who commented too...this is a very special post for me!

Ma What's 4 dinner said...

What a wonderful sentiment. I'm thinking of your grandmother and mother today, and of course you as well. I didn't really meet either one of my grandfathers either. One hung on to see me once, he battled pancreatic cancer and once my father brought in a picture of me (his first grandchild) he died the next day. The other lived overseas and died suddenly from a blood clot when I was 6 months old, we were scheduled to go to London to meet him 2 months later. I can relate, and I understand. Thinking of you all!

Lots of yummy love,
Alex aka Ma What's For Dinner
www.mawhats4dinner.com

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

Jenn this is such a wonderful heartfelt post and story. Your grandfather must have been an incredible man. So great to hear his (and your grandmother's and your mom's) story. Thank you for sharing.

Pam said...

What a touching and beautiful post to your grandfather.

Betty Ray said...

Beautiful post Jenn. I'm sorry you never got to meet him, but it sure sounds like he was a terrific man who left many terrific things behind. Thank you for posting this.

StephenC said...

I am very touched by your tribute to your grandfather. I was so emotional after 9/11 that I sometimes would go up to police officers and firefighters and thank them for what they do.

Anonymous said...

Jenn...What a loving tribute to a wonderful man! I am sure that both your Grandpa and Grandma are smiling down on you today with pride! I also appreciate your kind words for all police officers. It is a scary thing to have a father who died in the line of duty and still send 2 men in my family out to do the same thing my father did every day. I pray for all police officers on a daily basis, but most importantly, I pray for the father that I barely remember and for the safety of my husband Mike and my son, Robert Michael, who was named in tribute to his/your Grandfather. You are such a special niece and I love you with ALL my heart. Thank you for such a wonderful tribute!

Jenn said...

That secone Anonymous is my other aunt.. Pam. Thanks so much for commenting..I'm so happy you got to see the tribute! Love you..xoxoxo

Anonymous said...

Jenn, what a beautiful tribute you have composed. Although we have never met, and I never knew your Grandfather, it was very emotional to read.
I have forwarded the link to the members of today's Newark Police Department and, with your permission, I would like to submit this to our staff for our Newark, and New Jersey, Fraternal Order of Police newsletters. Your Mother knows how to reach me if this interests you.
Jim Stewart, Newark NJ Police Department

Anonymous said...

There could be no greater legacy to your grandfather than to be remembered by the wonderful family he left behind. As we face the perils of our job, many police officers will find comfort in your loving remembrance of your grandfather, hoping only that, in the event of our demise, we may be remembered with such kindness by our families. Lt. Mos, Newark, NJ PD

Anonymous said...

Your Grandfather served in the Traffic Division with my father. My Dad remembers him well and has fond memories of their time together. He was a great cop and well respected by his peers.

You must know that the larger police "family" has never forgotten your Granddad. He is honored every year at the Police Memorial service in Newark and his picture is hung in the Hall of Hero's in the local FOP office. As long as God graces our Country to exist he will be remembered as a true hero.

I too served with the Newark Police Department, though I was too young to have known your Grandfather. I am proud to have served with some of the finest men and women in the world. They stand ready to protect us all and are fully aware that they made be called upon to make the sacrifice your Grandfather did.

God Bless you and your Family and thank you for remembering a man who gave his all for us.

Jenn said...

Thank you so much to everyone for your wonderful comments. It is so touching to hear from other officers, too. You are an amazing group of people....thank you!!

p/o william rodriguez newark pd 99th class said...

god bless your grandpa a true man and on patrol at the lords gates.

Anonymous said...

That was a fantastic post. Im sure your grandfather would be very proud. Im a police officer in Newark. Most people have no idea the extreme danger the officers of Newark face every day. I met a Newark officer when I first came on the job. His last name was Lamotta. He retired in the late 90's. Is there any relation?

Jenn said...

As far as I know, there is no relation to that LaMotta...but I'd have to check with my mom to be absolutely sure.

Chris said...

Very touching post, Jenn.

Anonymous said...

As a female and an officer, this post was really heartfelt. It is not easy to do this type of work, but the best thing is when you have family that support and help you. God bless you and your family.
Damarie Cruz, Newark NJ Police Dept.

Desi said...

Beautifully written. Thank you to your grandfather. We need more great men like him in the world.

Mary said...

This is a beautiful post, Jenn. I miss my grandfathers very much. I am blessed that they lived as long as they did.