On Jan. 28, at 10 a.m., the Mike Balkman Council Chambers were filled with people in uniform, and many others simply wearing black. A wreath of white and red carnations was topped with a spray of red roses held the name of Curtis Massey on a length of white satin ribbon. It was one year ago today that Lt. Massey was killed in a freeway collision, and the community is still coming to terms with the loss.
When the call went up from the color guard for the uniformed personnel to present arms a salute went around the room like a wave, with all the police and fire department that stood against the walls responding. The gesture called up the memory of the cold and windy funeral day at Holy Cross Cemetery in 2009.
A brief reading from the New Testament, Paul’s first epistle to the Thessalonians, was given by Father Dan Gallagher, the pastor of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Pacific Palisades. His reading of “those who are sleeping will come again,” was offered as comfort for the Massey family, who attend church in that parish. Fr. Gallagher commended the Culver City Police Department for their support of the family.
Police Chief Pedersen spoke in recognition of Massey’s service, and of the tremendous loss to the community. “He touched so many lives. We will never forget, nor will any of those who benefited from the service he offered to this community.”
When Melody Massey stood to speak, those gathered seemed to lean toward her in an unconscious energy of support. Her words were deeply touching, exclaiming her gratitude for the “warmth, the strength and the love that has gotten us through this past year.” She spoke of the void left in her life and the lives of their children by the loss of her husband, and said that “Curtis was the perfect father, the husband I waited for every evening…He was my perfect soul mate, and we will always miss him.”
“He loved his work and his life of service. He loved the men and women that he served with; you were his brothers and sisters,” her eyes grew wet, but her voice stayed strong and she continued.
“And I know who you are. For each of you who came to my rescue, I cannot tell you how much it meant. You were the people he loved to serve with. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”
As the memorial ended and people moved into the next room for the reception, one officer was heard say to another “I still think about him all the time.”
While the grief over his loss is not yet diminished, his family and those he served with continue to support each other, and share their memories.