Friday, May 10, 2002

City dedicates picnic grove to officer's memory

By Susan Vela,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FOREST PARK — His namesake misses his strong hugs and encouraging smile. But Charles McDonald Jr. knows that not every 12-year-old can say a city dedicated a picnic grove and a monument to his father.

    Other Tristate law-enforcement agencies have scheduled memorial ceremonies:
    • Hamilton County: Noon May 17, Fountain Square. Speakers: City Manager Valerie Lemmie, Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen and Judge Raymond Shannon. Procession to the police memorial on Ezzard Charles Drive.
    • Northern Kentucky: 10 a.m. May 17, at the memorial site in Covington, Court Street.
        Charles Jr. of West Chester Township stood proudly Thursday as more than 70 people — including city officials, the Winton Woods High School Marching Band and more than half of the city's police officers — gathered behind the city municipal building to dedicate the Charles McDonald Picnic Grove and the black granite monument that bears his smiling image.

        Charles McDonald was a six-year police veteran who died in June after finishing a fitness test to join the Hamilton County Police Association's Special Weapons and Tactics team. The former Marine Corps and DARE officer was 35.

        City leaders said the monument is a “small token” of their appreciation for the officer's courage and dedication. Councilwoman Clara Pugh spoke reverently of the officer whose name will be officially added on the National Police Memorial in Washington, D.C., at a candlelight vigil Monday. Mr. McDonald's name is one of 138 etched on the Ohio Memorial Wall in London, Ohio.

        “He was our son. He was our father. He was a role model for our youth,” said Mrs. Pugh.

        The 3-foot-tall statue is etched with Mr. McDonald's mantra: “Do not follow where the path may lead. Instead go where there is no path and leave a trail.”

        “Charles' Marine Corps persona was a facade that hid a kind heart. He will forever be our brother,” Police Chief Ken Hughes said.

        Mr. McDonald's relatives said Thursday was one of the best days that they've experienced in the past year.

        “They made sure to let us know that his memory will never be forgotten,” said his brother, Daryl McDonald Williamson of West Chester Township.

        Mr. McDonald was a 1984 graduate of Forest Park High School and had worked for the city's public works department.

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