It’s no great secret that I used to dispatch for Sparta Police in New Jersey. A small rural town in the northwesternmost county of NJ that bordered upstate New York and Pennsylvania. In this small single-seat center, we took care of Police, Fire, and EMS for our town of 13,000, the Borough of Franklin with 5,000 or so residents, and the small Borough of Ogdensburg and its massive 1-square mile of country friendliness.
Each year, many of us would fight like dogs for the privilege of working on thanksgiving on day shifts or nights for one simple reason. Her name was Dee Jones, a lifelong resident of Ogdensburg, NJ, a member of the volunteer ambulance squad, and well-known by each member of the three police departments. Not a year would pass without Dee making 2 trips to each department on Thanksgiving day, once during the day, and another at suppertime, to deliver a hot turkey dinner with all the trimmings to those working and away from their families. She didn’t consider her job done that day until everyone was stuffed full to their limits and Garrison belts extended at least 2 notches.
I have no idea how long Dee kept up this routine, but I can sadly report that it will happen no more. Unfortunately, Dolores “Dee” Marie Jones, 89, passed away a few months back, peacefully surrounded by her loving family on Monday, August 1, 2022, at Newton Medical Center, Newton, NJ.
Dee had been a resident of Ogdensburg, nj, for many years. Working for meals on wheels doing deliveries of food. She was named senior citizen of the year by the mayor and council of Ogdensburg and the Knights of Columbus. Dee always enjoyed holiday cooking for the Ogdensburg, Franklin, and Sparta police departments and often would have one or more officers at her home for “cockeyed eggs”. Dee was a very active member of the Ogdensburg Fire Department women’s auxiliary, and she loved bingo and could not wait for the chilly chili motorcycle run each year.
If you’re in public safety, and your department has its own version of dee, be extra thankful. Public safety is on duty 24 by 7 by, 365 days a year. While they are out saving lives, often no support mechanism is in place to take care of these heroes as they spend time away from their families. While bringing in food from a stranger may seem foreign these days, you can always call and ask what you can do that would be acceptable.
Whatever you work out, remember the least you can do is make a call (to a non-emergency number, please) and thank them for their service. In my opinion, it’s the least you can do, and it will make someone’s day that they will likely remember forever.
I wish everyone in public safety, as well as all of those families who support our nation’s other first responders, a very happy Thanksgiving. As for the large extended Jones klan scattered around Northern NJ and Florida – you have my dearest condolences, and I wish you a peaceful; and loving thanksgiving. I’m sure all of you will be thinking of Dee. I know I will; I’ll be thankful for the short time I had with her during her time here.
Happy Thanksgiving, stay safe, and Thank You, 911!
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