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Frank Sinatra photo. Frank Sinatra ...
. . . My Way
© 1997, by: Don Poss

 

 

January 1, 1976

The Vietnam War had ended only months before January 1, 1976. But I remember that New Year's Day well, because Long Beach Police had just lost a third police officer killed in the line of duty, within 90 days.
      As a police officer, I shook hands with many dignitaries, great (Ronald Reagan) and small (Jimmy Carter), and countless politicians who came to Long Beach, California to get something for themselves. Only one great man came to the City to help someone while seeking nothing.
      The news of another officer being killed on duty devastated the department. We knew the coming tragedy for his family, made worse by the depleted Widows and Orphans Fund. A good man, and honorary member (supporting businessman) of the Long Beach Police Officer's Association, Whitie Littlefield, phoned Frank Sinatra and mentioned the three dead officers and the zero balance fund, to which Frank Sinatra replied, "We've got to do something about that." And he did.
      Frank Sinatra quickly publicized a concert at the giant Long Beach Arena, where all proceeds would go to the Long Beach Police Windows and Orphans Fund. The show was sold out, and $250,000 was raised (which was big money back then!). The officer's wife and small children were taken care of: home paid for, all bills paid, and scholarships set up for the kids.
      After the show, Frank Sinatra had just sang "My Way", I was standing guard at the rear exit of the Arena, waiting for old blue eyes to arrive at his limo. A small gathering of a half dozen young people stood nearby: having left the show and walked around the Arena to hopefully catch a glance of the legend. As Frank approached the car he could see the gathering quietly standing and not trying to mob him, and he said, "Officer, let them through." He shook hands with everyone, signed his bazillionth autograph, and thanked them for supporting the fundraiser. A first class gentleman.
      Before getting into the limo, he turned and shook my hand and said to hang in there that things would get better (meaning, for the police department). And that's when I understood that "My Way" ... his way ... was one of compassion and caring, and ... doing something about that ... when he could.

Thanks, Frank ... we still remember and are grateful for your kindness those twenty-two years ago . . . and for the songs that helped us get through the war.


 

Subject: Officer Frank Sinatra's Fund Raiser for my brother Gary Elkins and fellow officers
From : Keith & Christine Elkins

 

Hello Don, Thank you so much for your written tribute of "The chairman of the Board". May I add a small correction. When Gary was killed, the house was not paid for, but the payments were made until his wife could "get back on her feet"---ironically, Gary was about to cancel the mortgage insurance on a home he had in Garden Grove (which was for sale at the time), however he was convinced by the person who handled much of the insurance for officers, to evaluate the insurance Gary had, and at the time of death the insurance policies were in the hands of the insurance man and as a result both homes were paid for when he was killed.
      My brother Stanley (deceased) lived in Palm Desert and was able to meet "Mr. S", as he called him, several times, and from time to time conducted business with "Mr. S".
      I remember attending the show, and I think Sinatra insisted all tickets be one price. Gary's son, "Gary Little", is now a police officer in Garden Grove (California), in case you were unaware.
      Again, thank you for your efforts, I do appreciate them, I certainly do have a very personal reason to be thankful.
Keith Elkins,
San Angelo, Tx., Retired S.A.P.D.

 

Keith: I believe we've met some years ago. In fact, I know we have---you were skinner than your brother Gary. I still remember him fondly. I'll bet he would be proud to know his son followed in his footsteps. My son, David, is also a Police Sergeant with Long Beach ... nearly ten years now.
      Thanks for the correction to the story . . . you're right about the one price and Mr. S. insisting there not be any freebies for admissions. Best of Wishes to you and yours,

Don Poss, Retired Sgt LBPD

 
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