By Joe Beck
Hundreds of Virginia police, firefighters and other public safety workers have fallen in the line of duty over the years, but the state always has lacked a memorial to them.
Now those who died may be about to have their sacrifices honored as early as this year, thanks to a fund-raising campaign launched by an organization headed by Hadden Culp of Woodstock.
Culp, who recently retired as fire marshal in Prince William County, said the $700,000 raised so far - half of the estimated $1.4 million needed for construction - gives him hope that a monument soon will be built in Darden Garden next to the Capitol in Richmond. Culp said an additional $600,000 is being sought for maintenance and future engravings after the project is complete.
"My goal is to have this building done before Gov. McDonnell leaves office, and I still hope to have that done," Culp said Wednesday.
Culp is president of the Virginia Public Safety Foundation, the nonprofit organization chosen by former Gov. Tim Kaine in 2009 to raise money and oversee construction of the project. Culp said the project began with an outpouring of concern from supporters of public safety employees that Virginia is one of only six states that does not have a memorial to those who died in the line of duty.
The memorial design calls for the names to be carved into a white stone wall centerpiece made of granite quarried from the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The foundation has gathered 766 names so far, but Culp said more are sure to follow during and after construction. The wall will have space for additional engravings as more names are discovered, Culp said.
Culp said confirming the names of those who died has been a complicated process. The state did not start keeping track of line of duty deaths until 1972. Culp said he and others decided that the records available from the state were not enough and sent out a survey to all public safety organizations in the state seeking names eligible for the memorial.
The list included the Virginia State Police, police departments, sheriff's offices, corrections officers, game wardens, the Virginia National Guard, Department of Justice personnel and other state agencies such as the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
"We wanted to make sure we opened every door, opened every file cabinet, so when we unveil this memorial, it will have as many names as we discovered," Culp said.
The foundation's database lists the following names from public safety agencies in the Northern Shenandoah Valley: Ricky Lee Timbrook of the Winchester police; Gary Allen Hoffman, Woodstock; James William Newcome, Frederick County; Luther Pannett, Frederick County; William Patrick Farrell, Front Royal; Lynn E. Maricle, Front Royal; Dennis M. Smedley, Front Royal; and Samuel Arthur Funkhouser, Shenandoah County.
Many recent deaths from 2011 and 2012 are still under investigation and have been omitted from the list until officially confirmed, according to the foundation's Web site.
Culp said the memorial, funded entirely by private donations, is a labor of love for him. Those wishing to contribute can do so by mailing a check to VPSF at P.O Box 1355, Richmond, VA 23218 or by visiting http://www.vpsf.org/Memorial.html.
"We owe this memorial to those who have given their lives and the tens of thousands of public safety officers out there working in the community as we speak," Culp said.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org