The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX


November 21, 2013

Widow of JD Tippitt speaks on murder of Dallas officer

GREENVILLE — This week, people around the world are pausing to remember a tragedy which occurred 50 years ago, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Shortly after Kennedy’s death on Nov. 22, 1963, the same man who allegedly killed Kennedy also murdered Dallas Police Department Officer JD Tippitt.

Tippitt’s widow, Marie, spoke before the Greenville Kiwanis Club last week, recalling her late husband and the fateful events of that day five decades ago.

“With God’s help, you get through one day at a time,” she said.

Marie is a member of the Gasway family of Greenville, who have a long history of service in local law enforcement. Her father, C.W. Gasway, at the time of the shooting was a captain with the Greenville Police Department and two brothers, Dwight and N.L. Gasway, also were officers with the department.

“I was the product of a family of police officers,” Marie recalled.

She and JD met in Clarksville and married in 1946. JD — which was his name and not just initials — was offered a job working for the Dallas Police Department, but Marie asked him not to take it.

“Because I thought it would be a dangerous job,” Marie said.

The couple had three children, ages 5 to 13, at the time of JD’s death.

“I wanted to spend all our lives, but I only had 17 years with him,” Marie said. “Eleven of those years he was working for the police department.”

Marie said JD was working 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. that day.

“He came home for lunch that afternoon,” Marie said, noting how unusual it was for JD to do that. “I fried a few potatoes and fixed him a sandwich.”

He couldn’t stay for very long.

“The president being in town required everyone to be on the job,” Marie said. “Little did I know that would be the last time I saw him.”

Tippitt was on patrol in Oak Cliff and heard the radio reports giving a description of the suspect wanted in Kennedy’s assassination. Tippitt spotted Lee Harvey Oswald, who matched the description, walking along a sidewalk and pulled up alongside him. Witnesses said Tippitt got out of his car and began to walk to the front of vehicle, where he was shot several times by Oswald.

“He was killed by the killer of the president,” Marie said.

She learned JD had been murdered when she called the police department to check on her husband.

“They told me on the phone that J had been killed, which is something they never do,” she recalled. “Nothing was right that day. The love of my life had been killed.”

Most of the physical evidence pointed to Oswald as the man who committed the crime. Although charged in the murder, Oswald himself was felled by a bullet fired by Jack Ruby only 48 hours later.

At the time of Tippitt’s murder, there were no death benefits for the widows of fallen officers.

“His death called attention to it,” Marie said. “There were scholarships created because of his death. God used it for good.”

Marie remembered all of the calls and letters of condolence which she received in the days following JD’s death, including a call from Jackie Kennedy, who told Marie she was lighting an eternal flame for the president.

“And she would consider that it burned for my husband too,” Marie said.

Robert Kennedy called the day after the assassination. Marie said he was angry and bitter, claiming that if his brother had not gone to Dallas, both men would still be alive.

“I told him, ‘You’ve got to remember, they both were doing their jobs,’” Marie said.

She received 1,000 paper cranes, made by the students in a school in Japan.

“They were wishing me 1 million years of happiness,” Marie said. A police officer in Germany sent her a handmade gingerbread house. “There’s a lot of love shown when people do that. It does mean a lot to that person who sees that.”

Marie recently participated in a documentary about the 50th anniversary of the deaths, produced by The History Channel.

“It is very accurate,” Marie said.

Over the years, Marie has met with the wives and widows of other law enforcement officers and shared her experiences.

“That is the only way you make it through,” Marie said. “It has been a long 50 years. The memories just don’t go away.”

And there is the inevitable question of whether she believes Oswald really was the sole assassin who killed Kennedy. Marie said she has spoken over the years with the officers and detectives involved in the investigation.

“From all the evidence they’ve got ... I think it is totally false,” Marie said of the various conspiracy theories. “I think he acted alone and by himself. I guess that it is hard for people to accept that one man could be that evil.”

And now, 50 years later, Marie believes her husband’s tragic murder was what led to Oswald’s capture.

“If he hadn’t killed JD, he would have gotten away,” she said.

Text Only
  • Beekeepers.jpg Using combs for their curly hair

    Two little 7-year-old Hunt County twins are the sweetest girls around, and they have the honey to prove it.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Children’s Hope coming to county

    Emma Casselton worked for the state of Texas as a foster adoption specialist for 16 years, facilitating more than 1,000 adoptions of local children.

    July 11, 2014

  • IMG_0178.jpg Pastor reflects on 30 years serving Commerce church

    A congregation tends to reflect the views of its pastor.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Father's_Day_1.jpg A short history of Father's Day

    There are more than 70 million fathers in the United States today. 

    June 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7 Sunday Follies_Brunch_story.jpg Establishing the heart of Hunt County

    Every two years, the Greenville Follies holds a huge stage production to help raise funds for a local community nonprofit.

    June 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Preston_Tarrant.jpg Parents hope Greenville can help give Preston a lift

    Before the parents of 11-year-old Preston Tarrant received the news that their son had a form of muscular dystrophy, they weren’t even aware that any such disease existed.

    May 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • CM_Angela_Franklin_2-1.jpg Making a career out of volunteerism

    Angela Franklin is a wife, a mother and a grandmother, but she could also be considered a cheerleader for volunteerism in the Greenville area.

    May 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Birthing_Center_sign.jpg At local birthing center, it is Mother’s Day every day

    The structure sits in the middle of a quiet residential neighborhood not far from downtown Greenville.
    If not for the sign in front advertising the home as “The Baby Place Birthing Center”, anyone passing by would likely have no idea that it is a facility where mothers come to deliver their children.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pastor_Ratliff_feature.1.jpg A promise fulfilled

    A little more than 30 years ago, as he was crossing the bridge over Lake Ray Hubbard, Senior Pastor Roger Ratliff of Vansickle Baptist Church received a calling from God, reminding him to fulfill a promise he had made years earlier to join the ministry.

    April 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scott_Stegall.jpg Army veteran opens medical facility in Cooper

    When Physician Assistant Scott Stegall first relocated to the Cooper Community Health Center from his practice in Commerce, he knew setting up a family medical clinic in the small, rural community with limited resources would present a challenge.

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads

Does Dallas head coach Jason Garrett need for the Cowboys to make the playoffs during the 2014 football season to keep his job?

Who knows with Jerry Jones as owner?
     View Results
Must Read

See more photos and purchase prints here.

AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide