0

APD officer remembered at vigil

Deloris Lewis, left, and Homer Cobb light a candle in honor of their niece and sister during Thursday night’s candle light vigil at the Veterans Park Amphitheatre. Officer Terry Mae Lewis-Flemming was killed in an automobile crash while responding to an armed robbery.

Deloris Lewis, left, and Homer Cobb light a candle in honor of their niece and sister during Thursday night’s candle light vigil at the Veterans Park Amphitheatre. Officer Terry Mae Lewis-Flemming was killed in an automobile crash while responding to an armed robbery.

ALBANY -- Row after row of candles glowed for the memory, honor and love of a fallen Albany Police Department officer after 7 p.m. Thursday in the Veterans Park Amphitheatre.

Officer Terry Lewis-Flemming died when her patrol car collided with another patrol car during a pursuit of armed robbery suspects in East Albany Oct. 28. Her professional family, her relatives, her friends and the unacquainted reflected on her life.

"I knew her more than as just someone to work with. As women in a mostly male profession, we bonded because she was someone you could really talk to, confide in," said police Sgt. Denise Dawson-Barnes. "She had a great spirit and wonderful smile. Something like this reminds us how much of a family we are."

Speaking at the vigil, Deputy APD Chief Nathaniel Clark, Mayor Willie Adams and Police Chief John Proctor all mourned Lewis-Flemming's loss, celebrated her contribution to the community and offered assurances she was with God.

"We are here to celebrate our colleague and, most importantly, the servant of our high God," Clark said. "She is our own lily of the valley, our own bright and shining star. We must thank God we all knew her."

Proctor said he found it hard to find the words to say during a time every police chief dreads, the loss of an officer.

"She made the ultimate earthly sacrifice for the city of Albany," Proctor said. "The words to express my level of sadness do not exist. We have lost a mother, a friend, a wife, a Christian and a dedicated officer."

The depth of loss became apparent at the vigil as Victoria Johnson sang "The Wind Beneath My Wings."

"Did you ever know that you're my hero,

and everything I would like to be?

I can fly higher than an eagle,

'cause you are the wind beneath my wings."

As the notes reached the row of Lewis-Flemming's family members, one woman clutching a child cried out and broke down in tears.

Others in Lewis-Flemming's other families, the professionals from her department, the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office, the Dougherty County Police Department, the Albany State University Police and others, resolutely shook hands and hugged.

On a bulletin board there were handwritten messages to the family posted on construction paper badges and hearts. Sometimes there are those who care who have never met.

One heart read, "I didn't know you, but I love you for your service."

A funeral service is planned for 11 a.m. today at the Albany Civic Center with Dr. Frederick Williams officiating. Interment will be in Floral Memory Gardens.