Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Jerry Joe Quackenbush: Police Work Was In His Blood

Jerry J. Quackenbush (my father) was born September 6, 1930 in Indianapolis, Indiana to James Dixon and Nellie L. (Glidewell) Quackenbush. His mother died in 1958 of cancer, and his father in 1960 of a heart attack on his wedding night to second wife, G. Wilma (Evans) Quackenbush. He had one sister, Barbara Jean born abt. 1927, brother William "Will" and James D. Jr. born 2/11/38, all born in Indianapolis, Indiana. His father, James D., was the son of Herschel Garfield Quackenbush and Maud (Kern) Quackenbush, a machinist at a mill, in Spice Valley, Lawrence County, Indiana. James Dixon Quackenbush's heritage can be traced back to Jan Quackenbosch born in 1590 through Johannes Quackenbosch.

Jerry grew up in the Brightwood area of Indianapolis, played football, and graduated from Arsenal Technical High School. He was a U.S. Navy Korean War Veteran having served at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida as an Aviation Storekeeper.

Jerry married Phyllis L. Raney in November 1950. Phyllis was the daughter of Raymond (Cy) and Irma Raney of the Brightwood area of Indianapolis, Indiana. Together they had five children: William Carl, Larry Michael, David Wayne, Wanda Joyce, and Gene Allen. Jerry's wife, Phyllis (my mother), passed away on September 13, 1987. He then married Beverly Baker on October 3, 1999. Beverly still survives.

As far back as I can remember, my father always wanted to be a policeman. After the Navy he took a job as a welder for the Insley Company which repaired bulldozers and heavy equipment. Eventually he left the company to go into training for the Indianapolis Police Department.

During his early years on the force, Jerry was given one of the toughest, most crime ridden areas of the city and back in those days there was only one officer per car, per area. He was given the area around Indiana Avenue and General Hospital. Indiana Avenue was notorious for crime with all its pool halls, bars, private clubs, after hours bars, drugs, and more serious crimes. He quickly set about cleaning up the area and earned a reputation. He quickly became both the most feared and respected officer on the beat and ultimately the bad element in his district put a price on his head.

At the end of his shift, Jerry would go to a local park (Douglas), do his paperwork in the patrol car, and wait for his relief to show up. On one occasion his relief (and friend) showed up about 10 minutes early to relieve him and he was released to return to the station. Five minutes after Jerry left the park, a lone gunman approached the relief patrol car from the rear, and shot the officer in the head killing him. It was apparent that Jerry was the intended target was Jerry and not the other officer.

In another story told by one of his officer friends (Glenn Profit), one rainy day while on routine patrol on Indiana Avenue, Jerry thought he recognized someone on the FBI most wanted list walking down the Avenue. Leaving his patrol car he trailed the man down the street. The story goes that the fugitive ducked into a doorway and as Jerry approached the fugitive came out with a sawed off shotgun from under his raincoat and Jerry shot him dead on the spot. According to the story, because the area was so dangerous, he threw the man's body over his shoulder and walked him back to his car past all the pool halls and bars filled with observers, and deposited.the suspects body on the hood of the car like a deer. From that point on he was treated with respect on Indiana Avenue and in the area.

Later Jerry moved to the Narcotics section. and became a detective. He poised undercover as buyers and sellers of drugs. Then later still the Crime Action Team investigating organized crime and more serious crimes. During this time he often poised as a hit man, armed robber, etc.

As if his day job wasn't enough, in his spare time he often worked with the FBI on cases and with Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms busting stills in the Indianapolis area. He was employed twenty eight years with the Indianapolis Police Department retiring in 1990 as a Lieutenant.

His memberships included Madison Avenue Baptist Church, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 777, and the American Rifle Association.

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