By Tim Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new mural, honoring the life of a slain Philadelphia police officer, was dedicated Wednesday evening. It is a fitting tribute in a Northeast Philadelphia rec center that meant so much to the officer and his family.
On the walls inside of the lobby of the Penn/Crisp Gym on Academy Road in Torresdale, is a colorful mural honoring the life of Officer Chuck Cassidy. It features the officer in a scene captured in one of his wife’s favorite pictures of him.
“My niece’s wedding we were at,” said Judy Cassidy. But the suit and tie from the original picture was replaced with a short sleeved white shirt with the Penn/Crisp logo for the mural.
“This was a place with a lot of happy memories. He coached the girls’ basketball team here. He coached a couple of other teams as well but this gym – we spent a lot of time here with our kids ” Judy said.
“(The mural) is a celebration of his life, of his dedication to young people, to sports, to everything that this gym does because clearly it is a beacon in this community,” said Jane Golden, executive director of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, which this project is a part of.
City Councilman Bobby Henon, who supported the mural’s creation from the beginning, Councilman Dennis O’Brien and FOP President John McNesby joined the Cassidy family, friends, supporters and some of the fallen officer’s brothers and sisters in blue for the dedication.
“In 25, 30 years – in 10 years, kids are going to come into this gym and say, ‘Who’s that?’ and their parents will be able to explain exactly who Chuck was and what he did for this community,” McNesby said.
Artist Jon Laidacker was also on hand. He worked with the Cassidy family during the process of putting the mural together.
“There were emails floating back and forth all of the time. (The Cassidys) were telling me little things about what he did here so that could be incorporated in the rest of the mural around the lobby,” Laidacker said. “You spend, hours and hours a day for a week staring at his portrait and trying to make sure you get everything just right.”
It has been nearly seven years since Officer Cassidy lost his life while on duty and Judy, tearfully, said it was difficult to look at the mural. But she smiled when talking about what her husband, one to shy away from attention, would think of this tribute.
“He was a very private guy. He would hate all of the hoopla that everybody’s made about him,” she said. “But it’s nice because we know he’s not forgotten.”
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