Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram addresses the crowd gathered for the The FOP Lodge 61 Memorial Service in Gary on May 23, 2014. | Jim Karczewski/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 25, 2014 6:03AM
GARY — Boots Boyce strode solemnly to a star-shaped wreath standing in the parking lot of the Public Safety Building and stuck a single carnation into it in memory of her late husband, fallen police officer James R. Boyce Jr.
The Valparaiso woman had done it many times before, every year the Gary Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 61 has conducted its memorial services for fallen soldiers.
James Boyce Jr. was killed responding to an armed robbery in progress at the former Jackson Steak House in Miller on Oct. 5, 1974.
“You’re angry when it happens,” Boyce, who grew up in family of law enforcement officers, said of police officers being killed in the line of duty. “As time goes by, you learn to sort out the good memories from the bad memories.”
The attendees heard a long, slow version of taps played by a lone trumpeter just before a 21-gun salute by the Lake County Police Honor Guard detail and a moving version of “Amazing Grace,” played by the Lake County Police Pipes and Drums.
Officers from the Gary and Lake County police departments, wearing dress uniforms and standing in tight formations, joined federal and state officers, elected officials and family members and friends of deceased officers, some of whom retired after long careers with the Gary department.
Detective Cpl. Sam Abegg, president of the FOP, read the names of 14 Gary officers killed in the line of duty.
“We’re always very fortunate there’s no additional names added to that list,” he said afterward.
Officer Greg Fayson read the names of retired officers who have died since last year’s service.
“It gives me no pleasure to read these names, but hoping that by reading these names, they may live forever in the hearts and memories of those who hear them,” Fayson said.
Dorian Rorex was 27 when he was fatally shot pursuing a drug suspect Jan. 15, 1998. His son, David Michael Rorex, was 10 months old that day, and Dorian Rorex Jr. would be born months later.
David Michael and Dorian have attended the Gary memorial services as long as they can remember, they said. During a reception later, retired Sgt. Karen Erickson spoke to the teens about college choices while other officers patted the boys on their backs and hugged them.
“I feel more comfortable here after more years of coming, and it’s just good to see everyone here,” said Dorian Rorex Jr.
“It comforts me a lot,” his brother said. “It doesn’t make me seem like we’re the only ones here, by ourselves. Here, it’s like we have people to support us.”