Honor comes 80 years later

Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick

Sherman Beathard, a London Police Department marshal who died in 1928, was among the fallen officers honored May 1 at the 21st annual Ohio Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony in London. Among the family members present for the induction were several great-nephews who followed in his footsteps into public service: (from left) Buck Van Horn, assistant chief for the Jefferson Township Fire Department; John Beathard, a Madison County Sheriff’s Office deputy; David Beathard, a San Diego, Calif., police officer; Mark Beathard, an officer with the California Highway Patrol; and great-great nephew Todd Beathard, a private in the Army National Guard. Madison County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Tim Winebrenner (far right) soon will marry into the Beathard family.

Maurice Beathard was just a boy when his uncle, London Police Marshal Sherman Beathard, died in the line of duty on Jan. 16, 1928.

The fact that he never really got to know his uncle didn’t keep Maurice—and many members of the Beathard family—from attending the Ohio Peace Officers’ memorial ceremony on May 1.

Eighty years after his death, Sherman was one of 26 historical inductees honored at the ceremony, which has been held annually for the past 21 years at the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy in London. Sherman’s name is now among the hundreds etched into the memorial wall located on the academy grounds.

“We’re all very proud to be here,” Maurice said.

Among the Beathards who attended the ceremony were three of Sherman’s great nephews who are employed as peace officers, including John Beathard of London and brothers David Beathard and Mark Beathard, both of whom traveled from California for the induction.

“I wouldn’t have missed this for the world because it means a lot to me as a Beathard to honor my great uncle,” said Mark, who has been an officer with the California Highway Patrol for 21 years. “The ceremony was an awesome way to be part of the brotherhood (of law enforcement officers) in Ohio where I was born and raised.”

Mark knows all too well the risk that comes with a job in law enforcement. In March 2000, he was working a minor traffic accident when a drunk driver plowed into his motorcycle and then into him, breaking bones in both of his legs. Mark had been waiting with a couple whose car needed to be towed. He shoved the couple out of the way of the drunk driver. For his actions, Mark received the California Governor’s Medal of Honor.

London Police Marshal Sherman Beathard

David Beathard has been a police officer with the San Diego Police Department for the past 18 years. He is currently assigned to the K-9 unit. John Beathard has spent the past 28 years as a deputy with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office.

“When I was a young boy, I heard of Sherman’s death through my father and two uncles. Those stories are what inspired me to become a police officer,” John said.

According to newspaper accounts, Sherman arrested three men for being drunk in public on Jan. 8, 1928. As he was taking them to the jail for booking, his patrol car swerved suddenly and collided with a train at a railroad crossing on Main Street. Witnesses said it looked as though the prisoners in the car had distracted Sherman.

Two of the men and Sherman were thrown from the car. The two prisoners were killed instantly; the third suffered minor injuries. Sherman was transported to a hospital in Columbus where he died eight days later.

Sherman, an officer with the London Police Department for six years, had been sworn in as marshal only one week before the accident. He was survived by his wife and four children. He was 37.

Sherman is the only London police officer to die in the line of duty, according to London Police Chief Pete Tobin, who upon a request from the Beathard family enlisted the help of local history buff Earl Ballenger to research Sherman’s story. Ballenger submitted the information for consideration to the memorial’s coordinators.

Tobin plans to submit Sherman’s name for inclusion on the national peace officers’ memorial in Washington D.C. He is working with the Fraternal Order of Police on the project.

In addition to the historical inductees honored at the May 1 Ohio Peace Officers’ memorial ceremony, seven officers who died in the line of duty in 2007 were honored: Detective Keith T. Dressel, Toledo Police Department; Deputy David A. Poling, Gallia County Sheriff’s Office; Investigator Jason D. West, Cleveland Heights Police Department; Special Duty Officer Stephen L. Bollinger, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office; Trooper Jack P. Holland, Ohio State Highway Patrol; Officer George M. Brentar, Euclid Police Department; and Officer Brian D. Evans, Mansfield Police Department.

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