Dallas sunrise | Credit: Dale K. Myers/Tippit Family Collection

NOVEMBER 22: WHAT HAPPENED?

The Last Day

On the morning of November 22, 1963, Marie Tippit rose early as usual and made breakfast for J.D. By 6:15 a.m., he was out the door and off to work. She herself had a busy schedule ahead that day. To bring in extra money, she had been baby sitting neighborhood children at her home. [1]

J.D.'s first stop after leaving the house was his sister and brother-in-law's place, less than a mile away.

"That morning, Uncle came by the house early, before Carol and I went to school," niece Linda Christopher recalled. "Now usually I went to school real early for drill team, but on Friday mornings I didn't.

Credit: Tippit Family Collection Credit: Tippit Family Collection
Linda
Carol
"And he came by with a Spanish language book that he had borrowed from me. I'd gotten it out of the library. It was a book to teach you how to speak Spanish at the primary level. And he went through the book and got pretty good at it. Apparently he had a big Hispanic crowd out at the Stevens Park Theater which was another part-time security job he had in the Oak Cliff area."

"He wanted to know what they were saying so he could ward off any problems," Carol added.

Credit: Tippit Family Collection
J.D.'s unused game ticket
for November 22, 1963
"That's right. So, anyway on that morning he came by to give me that Spanish book back," Linda continued, "and to pay for his ticket for the South Oak Cliff High School football game that night that I was buying for him at school.

"And I'll regret this to the day I die, but
Carol and I were in the back teasing our hair, we wore bouffant hair, which was the style of the day, and we wouldn't go out to say 'Hi' because we knew Uncle would rib us." [2] "He was on his way to work," J.D.'s sister Chris remembered.

"He just stepped in the door and handed me the book and said, 'Give this to Linda to take back to school.' I asked him if he wanted a cup of coffee, but he said, 'I can't. I'll see you when I have more time,' and just went on out. That was the last time I saw him." [3]

J.D. checked in at the Dallas Police Department's Oak Cliff Substation around seven and by 7:30 a.m. was heading south to patrol his assigned district - number 78 - located five miles from downtown Dallas.

Credit: Tippit Family Collection
Tippit's patrol car (left) at the Rebel Drive-In in the fall of 1963

About 10:30 that morning Tippit met with friend and fellow patrolman Bill Anglin at the Rebel Drive-In on East Ledbetter, a favorite coffee haunt. "My beat joined his," Anglin recalled. "We discussed the President's visit. That was pretty much on all our minds. We both got busy right after the break and went our separate ways. I didn't see him after that." [4]

A few minutes later he stopped at the home of Edith Davidson, Jack's sister. He often popped in when he had a minute, just to say "Hello" to one of the gang from Baker Lane.

"I worked nights and I always got up at twelve noon everyday to watch As The World Turns," Edith laughed.

"He stopped by a little before that because he woke me up. And when I went to the door I tried to get him to come in. I said, 'Well, I'd be glad to make some coffee.' He said, 'No,'
Credit: Tippit Family Collection
Edith Davidson
that he was fixing to go to lunch. He said, 'Go on back to bed, I'll see you again when you're not half asleep.' That was the last time I saw him." [5]

J.D. drove home to Glencairn, where his wife Marie fixed him lunch. Earlier that morning, Marie had received a call from the nurse at Allan's school, telling her that he was ill and needed to come home. So Allan was there when his dad came home for lunch one last time.

Credit: Tippit Family Collection
Allan Tippit
"I made J.D. a sandwich, and he had some fried potatoes with it," Marie remembered. [6] J.D. wished he could have seen the President, whom he admired.

But he was also glad not to be carrying the burden of guarding his safety. Tippit shared the fear of many on the police force that an incident involving the President might occur during the Dallas visit.

"When you get a lot of people together, you never can tell what's going to happen," he told Marie over lunch. "The
crowd could get out of hand, or one nut might try something. I'm just happy to be out here where it's quiet." [7]

J.D. had the coming weekend off - the first time in almost a month. He spoke briefly with Marie about plans to work on their home, but felt the need to cut his lunch short, after just twenty-minutes. "He didn't take his whole hour," she recalled. "He said he couldn't stay because he might be needed, since most officers were downtown for the President's motorcade. He didn't get any kind of call, he just left on his own." [8]

Like hundreds of other ordinary afternoons, J.D. said goodbye and went back on duty.

Marie turned on the television in hopes of catching the live broadcast of President Kennedy's arrival in Dallas. Both J.D. and Marie had voted for him. [9]

At Love Field, across town, the president's
Credit: HSCA Files
Kennedy in Dallas
motorcade was about to depart after a tumultuous welcome from the cheering crowd.

"A neighbor up the street had come down in the morning," J.D.'s sister Chris recalled. "It was kind of a dreary morning. They were going to show Kennedy when he came to the airport and the parade and everything, and she came down to watch that with me. So she stayed a couple hours and we had coffee and everything." [10]

Credit: Dallas Morning News
The motorcade in downtown Dallas
The welcome for the President and Mrs. Kennedy was overwhelming. In downtown Dallas the crowds were thirty deep. Smiles were everywhere. One of J.D.'s nieces had taken up a position in the heart of Dallas with some school friends.

"Susan Hudson, Danny Kaumeyer and I were standing on the corner of Harwood and Main in front of Titche-Goettinger's
department store," Linda Christopher remembered.

"And then here comes this big limousine with Jackie of course in her pink suit, you couldn't miss that. And I remember the President's hair fluttering in the breeze.

"It was like I could have reached out and touched them. We were standing right on the corner. They looked like gods and goddesses. It was almost unreal." [11]

Seven minutes later, the motorcade passed a large sandstone colored building overlooking Dealey Plaza. A spattering of applause broke out. Then, the unthinkable. In a span of just eight-and-a-half-seconds, the cheering turned to screams as three shots were fired at the president's motorcade, striking Texas Governor John B. Connally and fatally wounding President Kennedy.

Credit: FBI Files
The Texas School Book Depository sniper's nest (arrow) 30-seconds after the shots

Murray Jackson, J.D.'s former partner and a recent addition to the Dallas Police radio dispatch office, advised all available units to report to the scene of the shooting.

Within five minutes, it became evident that the shots originated from the Texas School Book Depository, a seven-story structure on the northwest corner of Elm and Houston. Police surrounded the building.

Eyewitness Howard Brennan told them that he had seen the gunman and gave them a description [12], which was broadcast over the police radio fifteen minutes after the shooting.

"Attention all squads," the dispatcher Gerald Henslee barked, "the suspect in the shooting at Elm and Houston is reported to be an unknown white male, approximately thirty; slender build; height five feet, ten inches; weight 165 pounds..." [13]

Credit: CBS-TV
Howard Brennan
Realizing that he was draining Oak Cliff of available officers, dispatcher Murray Jackson ordered his friend and former partner to move into the area, "Unit 87 (R.C. Nelson) and 78 (Tippit) move into the central Oak Cliff area."

"I'm at Kiest and Bonnieview," J.D. responded, heading toward central Oak Cliff, an area that he knew like the back of his hand and that he and Jackson had worked many times before. [14]

At the corner of Elm and Houston, Dallas police homicide Captain J. Will Fritz pulled up with a carload of detectives. One of them was J.D.'s friend, Elmer L. Boyd.

Credit: Dallas Police Files
The sixth floor sniper's nest
"Captain Fritz, Detective Sims, and I arrived at the School Book Depository," Boyd recalled, "and we got one of the elevators and went on up, stopping on two or three different floors as we went, but we ended up on the seventh floor.

"We were going to start back down. And someone hollered, 'They think they found some empty shells down on the sixth floor.'

"So we went back down there and went over where the shells were by the southeast corner window." [15]

Twenty-two minutes after finding the sniper's nest, police found a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle stuffed behind some boxes in the northwest corner of the sixth floor.

At 12:55 p.m., dispatcher Murray Jackson contacted J.D. to make sure he was in Oak Cliff.

"You are in the Oak Cliff area, are you not?" Jackson asked.

"Lancaster and Eighth," J.D. replied.

"You will be at large for any emergency that comes in," Jackson said, with a grin. [16] The remark was an inside joke that dated back to their days as partners.

In the early 1960's Jackson had put in a call for assistance when seven unruly teenagers decided they didn't want to be
Credit: HSCA Files
Police carry the rifle
from the building
arrested. Tippit was one of the first to respond and chided Jackson afterward for having to "come save his life."

Now Jackson reminded Tippit that he'd have to be prepared to "save" him again, if necessary. The humor wasn't lost on J.D., who acknowledged Jackson's request with a very dry, "10-4." [17]

It would be J.D.'s last radio transmission.

Credit: Dale K. Myers
Tenth and Patton in Oak Cliff

The Shooting

At 1:14 p.m., two miles from the Texas School Book Depository, on a quiet residential street in Oak Cliff, J.D. Tippit came upon 24-year-old Lee Harvey Oswald walking down the sidewalk. Something caught J.D.'s attention and he moved in to investigate.

"You know, a policeman will notice something that an ordinary civilian won't," former partner Murray Jackson observed. "And I think that's what happened on Tenth Street. If Oswald hadn't made some sort of evasive motion, J.D. probably would have gone on down the street. But I think the presence of the police car made Oswald nervous and made him do something that attracted J.D.'s attention.

Credit: AP/Wide World Photos
Helen Markham
"Now it was very common, and it was in those years, that you would just pull up to somebody and talk to them through the passenger window. You wouldn't get out of the car." [18]

Helen Markham, a waitress on her way to catch a bus, saw Tippit pull over near Tenth and Patton. Oswald walked over to the passenger side of the squad car and spoke briefly through the vent window. [19]

And then something made J.D. even more suspicious of
Oswald. No doubt Oswald was sweating after double-timing the nine-tenths of a mile he'd covered in the last 12 minutes. It was 68 degrees and Oswald was wearing a zipper-jacket to conceal the .38 caliber revolver he had stuffed into his waistband.

"So, J.D. got out of the car and I think maybe he put his hand back and on the handle of his gun," Jackson speculated. "He had a habit of resting his hand on the butt of his gun when he talked to people. So, I think he just did that out of habit and started to walk around the car. Oswald might have been spooked by that gesture and pulled his revolver thinking J.D. was going to draw on him." [20]

Credit: Dallas Police Files
Dallas police crime scene photograph of J.D.'s squad car at Tenth and Patton

In the wink of an eye, Oswald fired four shots into Officer Tippit at point blank range. Four people witnessed the killing. Seven others saw Oswald flee the scene. [21] Moments later, a passerby notified police using Tippit's own police radio.

"Hello? Police operator? We've had a shooting out here..." [22]

Within minutes, radio and television were broadcasting the news that a police officer had been gunned down in Oak Cliff.

"They said on the radio that a policeman had been shot," J.D.'s sister Joyce remembered. "Well, my heart just froze. But then, as the newscast continued, they said that it was a Dallas detective. And I just breathed a sigh of relief because I knew that J.D. was not a detective. So, I don't know why, but I turned the TV off and went about doing my housework." [23]

At the Texas Theater in Oak Cliff, the ticket-taker called police to report a suspicious man. Minutes later, a posse of officers descended on the sparse theater crowd and approached Oswald, a former defector and an employee of the Texas School Book Depository. Ordered to his feet, Oswald raised his hands, said, "It's all over now," pulled the .38 caliber revolver he used to kill Tippit, and attempted to shoot arresting officer Nick McDonald. Only McDonald's grip on the barrel prevented the gun from firing. Oswald was quickly cuffed, taken to a waiting car and driven to police headquarters. [24]

"I received a call from Detective Boyd who was
Credit: FBI Files
Texas Theater in Oak Cliff
calling from the sheriff's office and he told me that there was an employee missing from the School Book Depository," former homicide lieutenant T.L. Baker recalled. "And I said, 'What's his name?' And he said, 'His name is Oswald.' And I said,
'Well, they just brought in the person who killed Officer Tippit, and his name is Oswald.' [25]

Although broadcasts in Dallas were withholding the identity of the slain officer, radio and television stations across Texas weren't as careful.

Credit: Tippit Family Collection
Christene Tippit Christopher
"The phone rang and I answered it," J.D.'s sister Chris remembered.

"It was my aunt, Oneita Richardson, who lived in Fort Worth. She said, 'Christene, J.D.'s been shot.' I said, 'I think you have that wrong. I think it was a policeman downtown where the parade was. I guess I would have heard if he was.'

"So she said, 'Well, I'll go. If you hear anything let me know.'

"Well, I immediately dialed Marie and asked her where J.D. was working at that time of the day. And she said he was working in Oak Cliff. She said he'd
just been by for lunch. So I didn't tell her what Aunt Oneita had said because there wasn't any need to upset her." [26]

Fort Worth wasn't the only place radio and television were broadcasting J.D.'s name.

"I was working in Littlefield, Texas, which was about thirty miles outside of Lubbock," J.D.'s brother Don remembered. "I was laying carpet. We went to lunch and while we were at lunch we heard that the President had been shot.

"We came back and were working in this house and we had the TV on. And I heard the television newscaster say that J.D. Tippit had been killed.

"Can you imagine? They announced it on TV and his wife
Credit: Tippit Family Collection
Don Tippit
didn't even know about it. And Wayne heard it about the same time I did and called me."
Credit: Tippit Family Collection
Wayne Tippit
"Don told me to call our sister Chris and see if it was true," brother Wayne recalled. [27]

"I had no sooner hung up the phone, after talking to Marie, when it rang again," Chris said. "It was Wayne in Lubbock and in a broken voice he said, 'J.D.'s been killed.'

"And I thought, there must be something to this for him to call me too. So I said, 'Let me go and call Marie.'" [28]

When Marie answered the phone this time, she heard
Chris urgently ask, "Have you heard from J.D.? Do you know if he's all right?" In a startled tone, Marie asked, "Why?" [29] "This time I told her," Chris related. "I said, 'I've had two phone calls saying that there's a news report about an Officer Tippit being shot in Oak Cliff, possibly by the same man who murdered the president. We've got to find out where he is and what's going on.' "[30]

"So I called the station," Marie said. "There was so much confusion going on. But they told me he had been shot and was dead on arrival at Methodist Hospital. I just freaked out. I couldn't believe this was happening. I said, 'Here the president and now my husband! You've got to be wrong!' " [31]

But the news was all too real. Marie telephoned her sister-in-law back and through tears told her what the police department had said.

"That's when I went in shock and I think it was a month before I came out," Chris recalled, the pain still evident in her voice fifty years later. [32]

A moment later, the telephone rang at the DeBord household.

"It was my sister Chris," Joyce said. "And she just said, 'J.D. was killed.' That's all I remember her saying. I don't remember if I hung the phone up or put the phone down. I just remember going up and down the hall. I had heard all my life about someone's insides twisting at a time like that. But I didn't know that it could really happen." [33]
Credit: Tippit Family Collection
Joyce Tippit DeBord

Credit: Tippit Family Collection
Jack Christopher
J.D.'s brother-in-law and best friend, Jack Christopher was at work when the call came in.

"There was a guy that met me about half way down the aisle," Jack remembered, "and he said, 'Your wife's on the phone and she needs you right away.'

"So I went on down there and she was crying and told me what had happened and that she was going to go down to J.D.'s house to be with Marie. I left work immediately and I got about half way home when I just took to shaking. I had
to stop my car. I couldn't drive any further. I just broke down." [34]

At police headquarters, Detective Jim Leavelle questioned the prime suspect in J.D. Tippit's murder.

"When I went in to sit down to talk to him," former homicide detective Jim Leavelle recalled, "I had no idea that he was going to be a suspect in the assassination of the President. My primary purpose was talking to him about the shooting of J.D. Tippit, which he denied of course.

"I said, 'Well, Lee, you strike me as being a fairly intelligent individual.'

"I said, 'You know that we can take that pistol that you had on you when you were arrested in the theater and fire ballistics out of it and match it to the round that was found in the officer.' I said, 'You understand that, don't you?'
Credit: Donald Uhrbrock/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images Credit: AP/Wide World Photos
Jim Leavelle
Lee Harvey Oswald

"He said, 'Yea, I understand that. But, you'll just have to do it.'

"In other words you may send me to the penitentiary or to the electric chair, but I'm not going to help you do it. Which is not too surprising. So, I was talking to him along that line and I asked him about the shooting of the officer and he said, 'I haven't shot anybody.' Of course, normally when you talk to somebody about shooting a police officer, they'll say, 'I didn't shoot the cop,' or 'I didn't shoot the policeman.' But he didn't say that. He said, 'I didn't shoot anybody.' I figure he was making his case early because he knew that it wouldn't be long before we'd be accusing him of shooting the president." [35]

Credit: Tippit Family Collection
The Christopher home on Bluewood in Oak Cliff

It was mid-afternoon and J.D.'s nieces still had no idea what had happened to their uncle.

"My boyfriend, David Pope, drove me home from school that afternoon," Carol Christopher recalled. "One of our neighbors, Mary Bilton, was standing in front of the house when we pulled up. I got out of the car and David said he would pick me up later for the football game. As he was turning around, Mary said, 'Have you heard?' And I said, 'Yes. That's terrible about the President.' She said, 'No, have your heard about your Uncle?' And I said, 'No,' a bit dumbfounded. And she said, 'He's been killed.'" [36]

Credit: Tippit Family Collection
Linda Christopher
Carol's sister, Linda, was still at school.

"I went to the gym to dress out and practice with the Golden Debs for the game," Linda remembered. "All at once I was called to the office. I went down there and there was David, Carol's boyfriend. And he said, 'I want you to come home with me now.' And I said, 'I can't go. We've got a game, I've got to get ready.' And he said, 'You've got to come now.' And I said, 'Why? What's going on?' And he said, 'You're Uncle's been killed.'

"And I just collapsed. I went into shock or something. Because I don't remember the ride home or anything. I remember David helping me up off the floor. And I remember Miss Thomas, the director of the Debs, helping me get into a car. And that's all I remember until I got home." [37]

"And then the nightmare began," Carol said. "It was just the most horrible day. We had never lost anybody close to us like that and we couldn't believe it. He had just been by the house that morning." [38]

Credit: AP/Wide World Photos
Marie Tippit and children - Brenda, Curtis, and Allan - the day of the slaying

The Nightmare

In Oak Cliff, family members had gathered at the Tippit home on Glencairn. They were about to get another shock.

"A group of us were waiting outside," sister Joyce DeBord recalled, "and a Dallas policeman pulled up in J.D.'s squad car - number ten. It was just like seeing J.D. drive up, because he was so proud of his squad car. And when this policeman drove up, it was the same for all of us. It was just more than we could handle." [39]

"The doctor came over and gave me a shot, but I never went to sleep," Marie Tippit remembered. "The days and weeks and months that followed were just terrible. You keep on going because you have to. You say your prayers and you feed your children and you read your Bible and you live one day at a time, so it gets to the point where you can live a single day without crying." [40]

Robert F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy
Shortly after seven o'clock, the Dallas Police charged Oswald with Tippit's murder.

Later that night, Attorney General Robert Kennedy telephoned Marie Tippit on behalf of Mrs. Kennedy and said they were "extremely sorry and wanted to offer their deepest sympathy in this time of grief." [41] Marie said she told him "to express my concern to Mrs. Kennedy and tell her I certainly know how she feels." [42]

Kennedy then said that if his brother had not come to Dallas, Officer Tippit would still be alive. Marie told him, "But, you know, they were both doing their jobs. They got killed doing their jobs. He was being the president, and J.D. was being the policeman he was supposed to be." [43]

A few days later, Mrs. Kennedy sent a personal letter to Marie that touched the entire Tippit family. [44]

"I wrote the letter in response," Jack Christopher revealed. "Marie was distraught you might say. She was in no condition to answer this letter.

And the letter was so nice, so beautifully written by Jackie Kennedy, saying, 'I feel like we were somewhat responsible for your husband's death because of the fact that he was killed by the same person.'
Jacqueline Kennedy
Jacqueline Kennedy

"She wrote 'I hope you're not bitter toward us because of what happened,' and, 'If there is anything I can ever do, well let me know.' "Marie said to me, 'I just don't know how to answer that.' And I said, 'Well, I'll do the best I can.'

Credit: Tippit Family Collection
Kennedy family portrait with inscription
So I wrote a rough draft for her, something like, 'There's no bitterness, we just have a very lonesome feeling. We love you and always have loved the president' - which J.D. did - and I wrote, 'If you want to do something for me, well send me a portrait of your family. Just a picture from everyday life.' Which she did." [45]

Shortly thereafter, a photograph of the Kennedy family at Hyannis Port arrived in a beautiful gold leaf.

The inscription below the photograph read: "For Mrs. J.D. Tippit - with my deepest sympathy - and the knowledge that you and I now share another bond - reminding our children all their lives what brave men their fathers were - With all my wishes for your happiness, Jacqueline Kennedy." [46]

On Saturday, J.D.'s body lay in state at Dudley Hughes Funeral Home, less than two blocks from where he was shot.

"I don't guess you could imagine what it was like to see your best friend laying up there," Jack Christopher said, his voice choked with emotion. "It was like a nightmare."

Jack snapped his fingers. "His life gone, just like that." [47]

Credit: Tippit Family Collection
A sampling of over 40,000 cards and letters sent to the Tippit family

J.D.'s seventy-five hundred dollar insurance policy was hardly enough to take a family of four very far. Their plight touched the nation's heart. Sympathy cards and unsolicited donations began to pour in from all over the United States. Within a few months, more than 40,000 pieces of mail with donations totaling over $600,000 were sent to the Tippit family. [48]

By Saturday night, Dallas Police had already developed a substantial amount of evidence against Oswald in the slaying of Officer Tippit and the assassination of President Kennedy.

Two eyewitnesses saw Oswald shoot Tippit and nine others witnessed his flight. Oswald's jacket, discarded a block away, contained fiber evidence that was found to match the shirt he was wearing when he was arrested. Four empty casings recovered at the Tippit shooting scene had been fired in Oswald's .38 caliber revolver to the exclusion of all other weapons and it was this same
Credit: Dallas Times Herald
Dallas Times Herald news clipping
revolver that Oswald had in his hand when he was arrested. [49]

Evidence in the Kennedy assassination was equally damning. The shots that killed the President were fired from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository where Oswald was employed. Oswald's fingerprints were found on boxes surrounding the sniper's nest, as well as the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle hidden near the back stairwell. Postal records and money orders show that in early 1963 Oswald ordered both the pistol that killed Tippit and the rifle that killed Kennedy using the alias 'A.J. Hidell.' When he was arrested, Oswald was carrying a false set of identification cards in that same name. [50]

Despite the evidence of his guilt, Oswald remained steadfast and stoic during interrogations.

"As to Oswald's demeanor during questioning, he would answer questions until you asked him about the assassination or Officer Tippit," former homicide detective Elmer Boyd recalled, "but when it came to that he wouldn't talk about it. He said he didn't know anything about that.

"He was fairly intelligent, he wasn't dumb by any means. I don't know how to explain it. I never saw another person just exactly like him. He was calm, you know, and he would answer questions as long as it wasn't about the assassination or Officer Tippit." [51]

Credit: AP/Wide World Photos
Oswald meets the press in the company of homicide detectives. Boyd and Baker are on the right.

"I think that if Captain Fritz had the opportunity, under normal circumstances," former homicide lieutenant T.L. Baker said, "he would have got a confession out of Oswald. He really would. I think that under ordinary circumstances Oswald would have told him about it.

Credit: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News, November 25, 1963
"Because, I had the feeling that Oswald was proud of what he had done. And that he really wanted to tell people about it. And I believe he liked Captain Fritz. That's because Captain Fritz was never harsh with him. He fed him. He had me get him some crackers and milk when he was hungry.

"I just believe that if Captain Fritz had just two of his people in the room with him, like he would have normally, that Oswald would have given him a complete confession. But he never had that opportunity." [52]

On Sunday morning, November 24th, Dallas police prepared to transfer Oswald to the county jail ten blocks away.

In a dizzying culmination of violence, Oswald was shot dead in the basement of City Hall by Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner.

While a great many people around the country celebrated Oswald's death, J.D.'s brothers did not.

"I hated to see it myself," J.D.'s brother Don Tippit remarked. "I wanted it to all come out."

"Me, too," Wayne said. "I hated to see him get shot." J.D.'s brother Edward agreed. "I believe that if he had lived," he said, "they would have gotten a little more out of the investigation." [53]

Credit: AP/Wide World Photos
A Dallas Police Honor Guard attends J.D.'s casket at Beckley Hills Baptist Church

The Funeral

On Monday, November 25th, an hour after the services for the slain President, seven hundred policemen joined as many mourners at the small red brick Beckley Hills Baptist Church to honor a man many considered "a lovable guy."

A bank of flowers five feet high surrounded the silver gray casket. An organist played The Old Rugged Cross as officers from Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Tulsa, Arlington, and Galveston paid their last respects. Tears could be seen on many faces. [54]

Three local television stations carried the funeral. Those that couldn't squeeze into the 450-seat church were ushered to Sunday school rooms to watch the service on closed circuit television.

"Today we are mourning the passing of a devoted public servant," said the Rev. C.D. Tipps, Jr. "He was doing his duty when he was taken by the lethal bullet of a poor, confused, misguided, ungodly assassin - as was our President." [55]

Courtesy Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection, Special Collections Division, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries
Pallbearers escort J.D.'s casket to the hearse
After the eulogy, Mrs. Tippit was helped forward, weeping softly. She stood for a long moment beside her husband's open casket. Then she turned away, handkerchief to her eyes, and was helped from the church. [56]

Six pallbearers escorted J.D. Tippit's coffin to the waiting hearse.

A fifteen-man motorcycle escort led the way to the sloping grounds of Laurel Land Memorial Park. At graveside, three dozen red roses were heaped upon the casket as family, friends, and colleagues bade a tearful goodbye. [57]

For Marie, the hardest time was the weeks just after the murder. "We lived at the end of the street," Marie remembered. "Curtis, our youngest, would sit by the window for hours and watch for his daddy. And that was really difficult." Marie would hug him and tell him his daddy loved him and that she missed him as much as he did.

J.D.'s only daughter, Brenda, suffered from intense stomachaches and "for the longest time, just couldn't handle it," her mother said.

The death may have hurt J.D.'s oldest son more than anyone. "Allen had a terrible time coping," Marie said. "It affected him for years. He couldn't talk about it for a very long time." Marie believes that her husband's death "was the major contributor" to many of Allen's problems later in life. [58]

A month after the funeral, Marie Tippit accepted the Meritorious Award from the Dallas Police Department on J.D.'s behalf.

After thanking the nation for their kindness and generosity in a televised press conference, she and her children slipped back into their private lives.

In the years that followed, Marie focused on seeing that her children led normal lives. She turned down numerous book offers and hundreds of interview requests
Credit: AP/Wide World Photos
Marie Tippit accepts J.D.'s Medal of Valor
in an effort to shield them from the public eye.

"I just wanted my children to have a chance to grow up as normal, average kids," she said in a rare 2004 interview with Michael Granberry of the Dallas Morning News. "It's important for kids to grow up and be themselves without being judged by events that happen. And being in the public eye was certainly not going to help them be normal kids."

Though she remarried twice in the years since 1963, Marie still misses the boy from Red River County.

"No amount of time can take away the pain I feel for the man I loved," she said. "And for anyone who thinks I'm over it, well, they never really knew J.D. Tippit." [59]

Credit: Dale K. Myers/Tippit Family Collection

An Ordinary Hero

For some men, there are no banners, no fanfare, no medals that could ever say more than what has been engraved in the hearts of those they've touched. In their passing we discover that part of the human spirit truly worthy of our adoration.

J.D. Tippit is one of those ordinary men who, through extraordinary events, had the moniker of hero thrust upon them. And although his role in America's darkest days will forever be remembered it is his likeable spirit that has left the deepest impression.

"I guess the thing that I would want the world to know about my Uncle," niece Linda Christopher said, "is that he loved his family more than anything and that it was so much fun to be with him. He would have loved all the gatherings that we've had working on this project. I've thought so many times, I wish he were here. He would have been the life the party. He wasn't really loud, he was just cute. He just had a way - I don't know - he'd put his head down, look up and grin. I just wish people knew that he was a real man and he was a hero to us. But more important, he was a family man. He was one of us. And he was loved." [60]

Duty, honor, and love - essential ingredients of a hero of the ordinary kind.


Next: Learn more about the crime scene evidence...


Footnotes

  1. Granberry, Michael, "Pain Lingers for Tippit's Widow," Dallas Morning News, November 20, 2003 [RETURN]
  2. Videotaped interview of Linda and Carol Christopher, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  3. Videotaped interview of Christene Christopher, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  4. Interview of William W. Anglin, March 29, 1983, pp.4-5, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  5. Videotaped interview of Edith Davidson, November 13, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  6. Granberry, Michael, "Pain Lingers for Tippit's Widow," Dallas Morning News, November 20, 2003 [RETURN]
  7. Bonner, Judy Whitson, Investigation of a Homicide, p.69 [RETURN]
  8. Harris, Lewis, "Policemanís Family Not Forgotten," Dallas Morning News, November 24, 1963, Sec.1, p.11 [RETURN]
  9. Granberry, Michael, "Pain Lingers for Tippit's Widow," Dallas Morning News, November 20, 2003 [RETURN]
  10. Videotaped interview of Christene Christopher, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  11. Videotaped interview of Linda Carol Christopher, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  12. 3H141-44 WCT of Howard Leslie Brennan, March 24, 1964 [RETURN]
  13. Dallas Police radio recordings, Channel 1, 12:44:38 p.m. [RETURN]
  14. Dallas Police radio recordings, Channel 1, 12:45:55 p.m. [RETURN]
  15. Videotaped interview of Elmer L. Boyd, November 13, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  16. Dallas police radio recordings, Channel 1, 12:54:43 p.m. [RETURN]
  17. Interview of Murray J. Jackson, March 9, 1985, p.1, Dale K. Myers Collection; Dallas police radio recordings, Channel 1, 12:54:43 p.m. [RETURN]
  18. Videotaped interview of Murray J. Jackson, November 15, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  19. 3H307 WCT of Helen L. Markham, March 26, 1964; CD630c, FBI Interview of Helen L. Markham, dated March 17, 1964, pp.1-2 [RETURN]
  20. Videotaped interview of Murray J. Jackson, November 15, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  21. Myers, Dale K., With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit, Oak Cliff Press: Milford, MI, 1998, pp.66-90 [RETURN]
  22. Dallas police radio recordings, Channel 1, 1:17:41 p.m. [RETURN]
  23. Videotaped interview of Joyce DeBord, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  24. Myers, Dale K., With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit, Oak Cliff Press: Milford, MI, 1998, pp.141-183 [RETURN]
  25. Videotaped interview of T. L. Baker, November 13, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  26. Videotaped interview of Christene Christopher, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  27. Videotaped interview of Wayne and Don Tippit, November 13, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  28. Videotaped interview of Christene Christopher, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  29. Granberry, Michael, "Pain Lingers for Tippit's Widow," Dallas Morning News, November 20, 2003 [RETURN]
  30. Videotaped interview of Christene Christopher, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection; Granberry, Michael, "Pain Lingers for Tippit's Widow," Dallas Morning News, November 20, 2003 [RETURN]
  31. Granberry, Michael, "Pain Lingers for Tippit's Widow," Dallas Morning News, November 20, 2003 [RETURN]
  32. Videotaped interview of Christene Christopher, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  33. Videotaped interview of Joyce DeBord, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  34. Videotaped interview of Jack Christopher, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  35. Videotaped interview of James R. Leavelle, November 13, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  36. Videotaped interview of Carol Christopher, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  37. Videotaped interview of Linda Christopher, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  38. Videotaped interview of Carol Christopher, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  39. Videotaped interview of Joyce DeBord, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  40. Granberry, Michael, "Pain Lingers for Tippit's Widow," Dallas Morning News, November 20, 2003 [RETURN]
  41. Fenley, Bob, "Slain Policeman's Family Comforted," Dallas Times Herald, November 24, 1963, Sec.A, p.11 [RETURN]
  42. Harris, Lewis, "Policeman's Family Not Forgotten," Dallas Morning News, November 24, 1963, Sec.1-11 [RETURN]
  43. Granberry, Michael, "Pain Lingers for Tippit's Widow," Dallas Morning News, November 20, 2003 [RETURN]
  44. "Mrs. Tippit gets Jacqueline Letter," Dallas Morning News, December 6, 1963, Sec.4, p.2 [RETURN]
  45. Videotaped interview of Jack Christopher, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  46. Jacqueline Kennedy inscription to Mrs. Tippit, Tippit Family Collection [RETURN]
  47. Videotaped interview of Jack Christopher, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  48. Myers, Dale K., With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit, Oak Cliff Press: Milford, MI, 1998, pp.26-27 [RETURN]
  49. Myers, Dale K., With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit, Oak Cliff Press: Milford, MI, 1998, pp.243-284 [RETURN]
  50. Warren Report [RETURN]
  51. Videotaped interview of Elmer L. Boyd, November 13, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  52. Videotaped interview of T. L. Baker, November 13, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  53. Videotaped interview of Wayne, Don, and Edward Tippit, November 13, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  54. Biffle, Kent, "Marie Tippit: A Policeman's Widow," Dallas Morning News, November 20, 1983; "Police Pay Tribute to Heroic Officer Tippit," Dallas Times Herald, November 26, 1963, Sec.A, p.4; Thompson, Thomas, "In Texas A Policeman and an Assassin are Laid to Rest Too," Life Magazine, December 6, 1963 [RETURN]
  55. Biffle, Kent, "Heroic Patrolman Lauded at Rites," Dallas Morning News, November 26, 1963, Sec.1, p.1 [RETURN]
  56. "Dallas Echoes JFK Dirge As Police Officer Buried," Tulsa Daily World, November 26, 1963, p.18, HSCA RIF 180-10124-10413 [RETURN]
  57. WFAA-TV Broadcast, November 25, 1963, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza; "Services Held in Texas for Policeman and Oswald," The Flint Journal, November 26, 1963 [RETURN]
  58. Granberry, Michael, "Pain Lingers for Tippit's Widow," Dallas Morning News, November 20, 2003 [RETURN]
  59. Granberry, Michael, "Pain Lingers for Tippit's Widow," Dallas Morning News, November 20, 2003 [RETURN]
  60. Videotaped interview of Linda Christopher, November 12, 1999, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]