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|This NY Correction History story to close out Women's History Month 2014 is, strictly speaking, not about a Member of the Service, but about a member of a MOS' family.
It's about a 7-year-old girl who witnessed her father receive a NYC DOC silver medal of valor. It's about a woman, 90+, who asked the Department to take the medal back.
The elderly lady had been the little girl, Rosemary Frances Fagan, who on Dec. 29th, 1930 watched as Commissioner Richard C. Patterson presented Deputy Warden Frederick T. Fagan and 23 others with medals for their courageous and intelligent action the previous August in quelling a riot by hundreds of inmates at NYC Penitentiary's baseball field on Welfare Island (now Roosevelt Island).
Eighty-three years later the little girl's hero worship for her father still shone in the eyes of the aged woman when last November at the Babylon Beach House, an assisted living facility, she returned the treasured medal to DOC for safekeeping in his memory.
Rosemary had indicated to Scott W. Lockwood, owner/operator of the seniors home on Babylon's Yacht Club Road, that she wanted to make such arrangements in advance because she was the last in her family. Her parents had passed as had her brother and sister, neither of whom had married. She had no immediate relatives and no contact with distant kin.
Lockwood reached out to the office of then Commissioner Dora B. Schriro who arranged through DOC's Office of Public Information to have retired director of historical services, New York Correction History webmaster/Facebook group admin, accept the medal on behalf of DOC and secure it in the Correction Academy archives.
That Rosemary should turn to DOC was not merely a matter of logic, but also a matter of emotional comfort and confidence. After all, she had literally gown up within the Department; that is, on its bridgeless, ferry-dependent penitentiary islands. Her father was one of the key prison personnel whose duties required them to reside there so as to be readily available in case of dire emergency.
During the exchange of silver medal of valor and framed certificate of appreciation, Rosemary recalled her family lived in one of the apartments on an upper floor of the Welfare Island prison and later in one of brick and frame houses on Rikers Island. She went to school and the movies "off island." One of her favorite "on island" pastimes consisted of monitoring the different ships and boats passing by, sometimes with people waving back at her.
In facing the fact that, sooner rather than later, she would not be around to safeguard the cherished medal given to her hero father, she addressed the problem herself rather than leave it to an executor.
In order that memory of him might be preserved after her, Rosemary gave back the medal that meant so much to her for more than three-quarters of a century.
Doing that, the daughter demonstrated a valor of heart of which her honored dad could be proud.