Durant (Okla.) Daily Democrat, Tuesday, May 30, 1978

Memorial Funds For Slain Troopers' Families Growing

Memorial funds for families of three highway patrolmen slain Friday by convicts Claude Dennis and Michael Lancaster are growing rapidly at all five county banks, president Dale Flanagan of Durant Bank and Trust said today.

"We've had a lot response," Flanagan, said, "from both individuals and organizations, especially considering the long holiday."

Golfers contributed several hundred dollars during the closing day Monday of the Durant Country club's Texomaland Partnership tournament, and other groups are planning benefits.

One is the Red River Valley CB club, which today announced a benefit concert starting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Durant Round Up club's fairgrounds arena.

Admission will be free, but bins are to be placed around the arena for donations. The Round Up club offered the arena for the show, and bands contributing their time include Tall Timber Boys, Country Explosion, and Bobby Tidwell's band.

Country and Western, Gospel and rock music will be featured, and a cake auction is being planned by the CBers.

Checks made to Trooper Fund are being accepted by the First National bank of Durant, Durant Bank and Trust, the Bryan County National in Caddo, the First National of Colbert, and the First State of Bokchito.

Similar fund drives were underway elsewhere in the state.

Funerals for the three troopers continued today in Enid with an afternoon service for Houston (Pappy) Summers. They were spread out over three days so fellow officers could pay their last respects to each.

The service for Lt. Pat Grimes was held Monday at Moore; the one for William Young will be Wednesday afternoon at Woodward.

Lt. Grimes was to have left Moore today to take a busload of children from his church to a camp in Arkansas.

The three were honored at a Sunday afternoon memorial service at the state capitol building; it drew 5,000 mourners, including Gov. David Boren.

At almost the same hour, perhaps 150 attended a service for Dennis in the First Baptist church of Bristow, his home town. FBI agents and highway patrolmen also attended to prevent any disruption.

Lancaster drew even less notice-he was given a simple burial Monday in the prison cemetery at McAlester.

Prison officials contacted his mother, who lives in Kansas. "She chose not to claim the body," spokeswoman Nancy Nunnally said.

Prison chaplain Billy Donovan performed the non-denominational burial rite, she said.

Routine Memorial Day services also were held in the prison cell area before the burial, she said.

The chaplain said the "object of the service was to point up the sacredness of human life, no matter whose life it is."

The state paid for the casket from a fund maintained at the prison, Miss Nunnally said.

Lancaster's headstone bears his name, birth and death dates, and his prison number.

Ironically, the body of the third of Dennis and Lancaster's victims was discovered Sunday afternoon. Remains of James Dowdy were found in a dump near Hemphill, Tex. Dowdy had gone there May 5 and never returned to his home near Toledo Bend lake.

Dowdy was identified by Dr. Jack Pruitt of Lufkin after an autopsy.

Other deaths blamed on the two fugitives include David Bobo of Garland, Tex, on April 29; Nathal Thannikal Mathew of Garland, Tex on May 2; Bobby Spencer of Denison, on May10; and Mrs. Stacy Beavers of Cuba, Ala., on May 23.

A memorial service also was held in Tulsa's Boulder park for their three trooper victims.

"Several days ago all of us in our state and many in our nation were horrified and aggrieved to hear of the loss of three dedicated citizens of our state who laid down their lives for the security of their fellow citizens," said Rabbi Arthur D. Kahn of Congregation B'nai Emunah.

"God only knows how many innocent lives in our state and other states were saved because of the action and dedication of these members of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol."

Kahn recalled the last words fellow patrolmen heard from the slain troopers - "V-54, we are hit."

"The phrase struck home to me perhaps more than it would have to the average citizen because, in Jewish tradition, 18 is one of our symbols for life," Kahn said. "Three into 54 is 18, and here were three of our patrolmen who gave their lives.

"It is my fervent hope and prayer that this phrase, 'V-54,' will live in our memories like the Spirit of 76, 'Remember the Alamo' and other national slogans," Kahn said. " 'V' for victory over lawlessness and '54' for the victory of life over death."

In his invocation, the Ref. Anthony Kraff, pastor of St. Catherine's Roman Catholic Church, prayed "the arm of God's mercy rest on the shoulders of those who mourn the men who lost their lives this last weekend."