Then and Now: JFK assassination has special meaning for widow of slain officer




Posted on November 20, 2013 at 4:28 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 2 at 12:42 PM

DALLAS — Dallas police Officer J.D. Tippit was shot and killed on an Oak Cliff street on November 22, 1963.

If that date sounds familiar, Officer Tippit's death came just 45 minutes after President Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza.

The same man was responsible for both crimes.

Tippit had been trying to stop Lee Harvey Oswald near 10th and Patton Street.

"This can't be happening. This has got to be a nightmare — which it was — but it was real," said Marie Tippit, the officer's widow.

It's a part of the assassination story that's often forgotten.

"I was never bitter about Oswald... what good would that have done?" Mrs. Tippit asked. "It wouldn't have brought Jay back."

The father of three would never grow old with wife Marie or meet his grandchildren.

For decades, Marie Tippit sat patiently waiting to honor her husband, all the while, her pain over his violent death never subsided.

"I still miss him terribly," she said. "I get by one day at a time with God's help."

Forty-nine years after that dreadful day in Dallas, the old wood frame homes and apartments that stood where Officer Tippit was slain have given way to a renovated high school and a historical marker that took nearly five decades to be realized.

"This is an act of respect and remembrance," said Michael Amonett with the Old Oak Cliff Conservation league. "It's always better. It's the right thing."

Amonett stepped up to establish the honor for Officer Tippit at the corner two miles south of Dealey Plaza. His first call was to the Dallas Independent School District. They were in the process of excavation for landscaping next to Adamson High School.

The district quickly re-drew its plans accommodate a memorial.

"This is an opportunity for the students to be a part of history," Amonett said.

But for Marie Tippit, it's a place of peace — with the promise that her husband's sacrifice will not be forgotten.

"I just stop and reminisce, think about all the good times," she said. "Usually I will cry, because he's not there any more."

But J.D.'s memory still rests close to her heart in a special necklace — a replica of his police badge.

One touch of this keepsake brings it all back to her. "You didn't forget those blue eyes if you had seen them, either," she said.

Marie Tippit says her love story is far from over. She'll see "ole' blue eyes" on the other side.

But for now, she stops and talks to him in front of the simple memorial plaque in a spot that has been transformed through the years.