Over this past weekend, as many as 18 Stamford Police Officers showed one of their own that, even well into retirement, you're always part of the family.
Sgt. Joseph Kennedy joined the efforts of several other officers and community members on Friday, October 5, and Saturday, October 6, to help renovate the 1,200-square foot Oaklawn Avenue home of Bea Foreman.
"Bea Foreman, who just turned 95 this week, has to move into an assisted living facility," Kennedy said. "The sale of this house will make a huge difference for her to be comfortable. Somebody was asking, 'Why are you guys getting as heavily involved as you are?' It's because of the Foreman family and what they've done for the community."
Bea is the widow to Stamford's first African-American police officer, James Foreman. The couple lived together in Stamford for more than 45 years and were active members of the community. Foreman joined the Stamford Police Department in the mid-1930s.
"Jimmy Foreman was the first black police officer in the City of Stamford. You can only imagine what he put up with as a police officer in those times,"Kennedy said. "Jackie Robinson lived in Stamford, but Jimmy Foreman had as vital a role here, locally, in what was done to advance civil rights, in our world and our little community and in the department and such. He was a leader and a mentor to many of our officers. This is our way of giving back."
Bea was a teacher and involved in the Stamford Board of Education. Both Foremans were members of the NAACP. Though he retired in 1977, Foreman remained active in the Stamford Police Association right up to his death in 2006, when he passed away at 92. Kennedy said keeping the history of an officer like Foreman alive in the memories of police officers helps the entire department grow.
"Everybody already knows who the Foreman family is," Kennedy said. "[Jimmy] would come to our meetings, he was always there. The biggest thing is, in an organization like ours, bringing history forward so you know where your successes are and you know what not to repeat. With members like Jim, he's bringing that institutionalized history with and sharing it."
Kennedy said the officers got started at 7:30 a.m. Friday and worked as long as they could—well into the evening—and then did the same thing Saturday. He said there was no big thing they had to focus on getting done, just the cumulative difficulty of several smaller projects.
"It's a bunch of small, little projects, but we're hoping it will make a big difference because it's real important that we present this house to the real estate market the right way," Kennedy said. "Within three days I had everyone lined up who was offering to work. Then it was just coming up with a plan of attack for the project. Some of our guys are very skilled, some of the guys, like me, have no skill whatsoever. We're just relying on everyone to do what they can to help out."