Police Lt. Edward C. Dohrmann, assigned to the accident investigation division, was on duty on April 13, 1969 when he responded to the scene of an accident at State Road and Pennypack Street in Holmesburg.
Dohrmann helped a rescue crew remove a trapped motorist, went on to complete his shift, and then returned to his home near 60th and Regent streets in Southwest Philadelphia.
ldquo;I remember he came home and said, ‘Boy, what a day,’” recalled his wife Winnie. “I knew he didn’t feel well.”
Dohrmann went to his bedroom, and his daughter Joanne brought his dinner upstairs. He later collapsed, and his wife said the Act of Contrition.
The lieutenant died of a heart attack. It was attributed to the extreme physical exertion required during the rescue earlier on that spring Sunday.
ldquo;I know he’s in heaven because he helped someone,” his wife said.
Last week, more than 42 years after Dohrmann’s death, he was honored with a plaque dedicated at the Philadelphia Police Academy, not too far from the scene of the accident.
Dohrmann, an 11-year veteran of the police department, was 42 when he died. Besides his wife and daughter, he was survived by two other daughters, Eileen and Lynne, and sons Edward, David and John. The children ranged in age from 3 to 13. Edward has since passed away.
The plaque was dedicated on Oct. 12 during an indoor ceremony attended by, among others, District Attorney Seth Williams, Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross and members of the police academy’s class 359. Elizabeth Wendel was the citizen sponsor.
The plaque was placed outdoors, on grass and under trees.
The dedication was the 103rd for a fallen Philadelphia police officer and 11th this year. In all, 243 plaques have been dedicated to police officers and firefighters who’ve died in the line of duty in the Philadelphia area.
The program is a partnership between attorney James J. Binns and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5.
The ceremony included an invocation, benediction and the Pledge of Allegiance. A bugler played Taps; the Philadelphia Police and Fire Pipes and Drums offered Amazing Grace.
ldquo;It was a wonderful ceremony. It was amazing,” Winnie Dohrmann said.
“It was a very nice tribute,” Lynne Campisi said.
Campisi was 12 when her father died. She remembers him quitting smoking so he could save money to buy his children milk. He taught his oldest two sons hunting-safety.
“He was a gentle giant,” she said. “He cried at his wedding.”
Eileen Dohrmann was 8 when her father died. She is saddened that he never got to see his children grow up and meet their spouses, his 15 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren (with three more on the way).
“He served with honor and pride,” she said. “He’s our hero in heaven.” ••
Anyone interested in sponsoring a hero plaque can contact James Binns at 215-275-3000.
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org