Forty-seven years ago today, Temple Bowley was headed for a weekend getaway with his family when he found Dallas Police officer J.D. Tippit lying dead beside his cruiser at 10th Street and N. Patton Avenue in Oak Cliff. He used the radio in Tippit's car to alert dispatch, then helped load the slain officer into an ambulance after officers arrived.
With a fresh focus around Oak Cliff, the manhunt for Lee Harvey Oswald ended shortly after at the Texas Theatre, and Bowley fell back into the rest of his life, a little-known footnote in the history of the Kennedy assassination.
Today, though, the DPD honored the 82-year-old Bowley with a Citizens Certificate of Merit for his attempt to summon help for Tippit, and his contribution to the search for Oswald. A year ago, the department memorialized Tippit with a replica of his police car.
Presenting Bowley with the certificate, DPD Chief David Brown said this recognition is long overdue: "In the midst of the tragic events of November 22, 1963, and the days that followed, the selfless acts taken by Mr. Temple Bowley were too soon forgotten."
After the ceremony, Bowley was joined by Tippit's widow, Marie -- who he met for the first time earlier today -- in a press scrum beside the stage.
"I was just happy to meet someone who tried to help," Marie Tippit told reporters. "I'd looked forward to meeting him for a long time." Bowley, for his part, said he was "humbled, I guess," by the honor. (Sunday's Dallas Morning News a detailed look at Bowley's contribution to the cause.)
DPD Senior Corporal Rick Janich said he first learned of Bowley's role in tracking down Oswald when he was contacted by JFK researcher Farris Rookstool III, who showed him the police radio transcript of Bowley's conversation with dispatch. Janich said Bowley "was a little shy" about being honored, but ultimately was gracious enough to come forward. "He was just doing what every normal citizen would've done."