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June 2015 - 20yr Memorial for Louis Pompei SGVTribune PDF Print E-mail

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE 6/09/2015

BY IMANI TATE

Sensitivity to others’ well-being and believing in team work were core habits for Louis Anthony Pompei, the Glendora police officer killed June 9, 1995, during an armed robbery at Vons Market in San Dimas.

Law-enforcement agents from numerous jurisdictions, relatives, friends and community members in San Dimas, Glendora and Mahanoy City, his Pennsylvania hometown, will celebrate his life and bravery in 20th anniversary memorial ceremonies Tuesday. The San Dimas observance will be at 5:30 p.m. at the Pompei Memorial in Via Verde Park. The Mahanoy City program will be at Louie’s graveside in the Sacred Heart Cemetery.

Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab, Louie’s brother Carlo Pompei and Gary Rapkin, a former Glendora intermediate school principal, recently reflected on Louie as a boy, man, relative, athlete, friend and policeman. They said there were no differences in Louie’s character, personality and attitudes no matter what hat Louie wore from the time he was born as the youngest of six children to the night he died at San Dimas Community Hospital.

“When Louie was born, the five of us were all high-school age, so he was not only our brother, he was our child,” recalled Carlo, the second-oldest sibling. “We looked after him. As a young boy, he was enthusiastic and adventurous and enjoyed a lot of love from our parents (Anthony and Dorothy Pompei) and us. He grew up in a large, loving Italian family in a culturally diverse community. Mahanoy City isn’t a large community, but our family was fairly well known because our dad served on the school board for 18 years, my parents had a pizza restaurant and we all played sports.

Carlo recalled a teenage incident that eternally endeared Louie to his school and community and demonstrated Louie’s constant concern about people working together to affect positive things.

Louie, a senior and halfback on the high school football team, wanted his Golden Bears fellow athletes to have not only a winning season, but also tremendous school spirit.

“He took a rope and strapped it around his stomach and tied the other end around a tree. He then climbed a slate mountain right behind the school and painted ‘Bear Pride’ in big, bold white letters on the side of the mountain,” Carlo said. “That ‘Bear Pride” became a rallying point for everyone and the coaches, athletes, students and school officials are still using that site for rallies and events to generate school pride. Louie’s mountainside phrase inspired fundraisers, T-shirts and other items featuring pictures of the mountain inscribed with ‘Bear Pride.’

“It’s still a focal point for the school and community,” Carlo said.

In 1996, the high school retired Louie’s No. 27 football number.

“His jersey hangs in the school gym right today,” Carlo said. “He also played football while studying criminal justice at Mansfield University. His interest in law enforcement was also because of his desire to help and protect others.”

After he completed a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, Louie looked for job opportunities in California, welcomed by his sister Dorothy Ann Pompei Wargo whose husband John was a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy. He worked part-time at UPS while taking tests to become a policeman and, after completing training at the Sheriff’s Academy and working as a police officer trainee in Glendora, he was hired as a full-time Glendora policeman in March 1988.

Staab worked with Louie in Glendora from the time he was hired and watched his progress through patrol to detective and his final assignment as the Glendora officer assigned to L.A. Impact, the anti-drug trafficking task force comprised of county and municipal veteran officers.

Rapkin knew Louie well when Rapkin worked in Glendora schools,

“He was the real deal, a wonderful guy who was fully committed to making the lives of our students better,” Rapkin said. “He gave immeasurable help to our students and served as an excellent role model for them.”

Staab was among the 20 police officers who escorted Louie’s body back to Pennsylvania in June 1995. He was on duty the night Louie was shot and killed and remembered the shock wave of grief that swept through the Glendora force. Lt. Tim Crowther was one of the first officers to arrive at San Dimas Community Hospital after Louie was brought in.

“Tim held his hand when Louie was wheeled into surgery. Louie’s death was especially devastating for all of us because he was the first, and remains the only, Glendora officer killed in the line of duty since the department was founded in 1926. We all loved Louie because he was a charismatic, stand-up person. No one was surprised about his act of bravery that day,” Staab said.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 June 2015 07:25
 
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