Pelham remembers fallen officer

Published 12:19 pm Tuesday, December 4, 2012

John Davis, the son of fallen Pelham police officer Philip Davis, plays with a toy police car on his father's grave during a Dec. 2 memorial service at Southern Heritage Cemetery. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Three years have passed, but the memory of Philip Davis’ funeral still sticks in Pelham City Council President Rick Hayes’ mind.

“I remember going to the funeral, and it’s one of the most moving funerals I’ve ever been to,” Hayes said on Dec. 3, one day before the anniversary of Davis’ death.

On Dec. 4, 2009, Davis became the first Pelham police officer to be killed in active duty when he was shot and killed during a traffic stop on Interstate 65.

Every year since Davis’ death, the city has remembered and honored his sacrifice by displaying a wreath in the Pelham Police Department’s lobby for several days before transporting it to Davis’ grave in the Southern Heritage Cemetery off Alabama 119.

On Dec. 2, 2012, several city officials, police officers, friends and family members gathered at Davis’ graveside to honor his memory.

“It was a very moving event,” Hayes said. “Please keep that family in your thoughts and prayers. By all accounts, (Davis’ widow) Paula Davis is a very independent woman, but she is still hurting.”

“Our heart still goes out to the Davis family,” Pelham Mayor Gary Waters said.

Pelham Police Department Capt. Larry Palmer, who worked for many years with Davis, said the department will display the wreath and hold the memorial ceremony every year to keep Davis’ memory alive.

“We don’t want to ever forget Philip. He will forever be a part of us,” Palmer said. “He was a great human being. It’s hard to lose someone who does right and does it for the right reasons.”

Palmer, like many other Pelham officers, said he will forever remember Davis’ sense of humor.

“He would give you this face, and then cut his eyes a certain way. All you could do was laugh,” Palmer said. “I will never forget that.”

Palmer said his faith has helped him get through Davis’ death, and said he is looking forward to seeing him again one day.

“In my faith, this is not the final chapter. This is just a stop along the way,” Palmer said.