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Fallen officer still stirs memories

Burnaby RCMP officers pay solemn tribute to Terry Tomfohr, a constable at the detachment who died while on duty 47 years ago. A remembrance service was held at a memorial cairn in front of the detachment on Tuesday. - MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER
Burnaby RCMP officers pay solemn tribute to Terry Tomfohr, a constable at the detachment who died while on duty 47 years ago. A remembrance service was held at a memorial cairn in front of the detachment on Tuesday.
— image credit: MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER

Hardly anyone at Burnaby's RCMP detachment knew Terry Tomfohr when he died. Almost five decades later, nobody at the detachment can forget him.

Tomfohr was a fresh-faced constable just three weeks into his first posting out of training at the force's Depot in Regina, Sask. when he perished. He plummeted over a cliff while chasing some youths who had been harassing an elderly woman at her home in the Capitol Hill area. He was the first, and only, member of the Burnaby detachment to be killed while on duty.

On Tuesday, members of the detachment gathered in orderly ranks, along with representatives from city council, Burnaby-Deer Lake MLA Kathy Corrigan and a pair of pipers, to pay tribute to Tomfohr. The brief ceremony has been an annual rite. In 2002 a permanent memorial was constructed at the base of the flagpoles in front of the detachment's entrance. Two years ago the memorial was upgraded to a large cairn.

Delores Jackson was a secretary in the traffic office when Tomfohr died on June 3, 1967. When she reported for her shift, she said the sense of loss in the detachment was palpable.

"It was pretty traumatic," said Jackson, who dabbed tears during the service.

Tomfohr's body wasn't found until the next morning after a massive search overnight. The effort also turned up the remains of a young boy who had fallen over the same cliff years earlier.

Al Lund, a retired officer who worked in the traffic division at the time, said everyone in the detachment was surprised they'd lost one of their own.

"We'd never lost anybody," said Lund. "Everybody was shocked."

Even though Tomfohr hadn't been a part of the Burnaby RCMP long enough to make much of an impression, Jackson said it was an honour to be able to continue to remember him.

"He was part of us," she said.

 

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