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Father’s Day 2020:
Patrolman Walter B. Harris

Inspired by Ms. Anna Jarvis, founder of Mother’s Day, Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, a loving daughter of Mr. William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran from Spokane, Washington, began a campaign to start Father’s Day. When she was 27, the first noted Father’s Day celebration took place in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910.


Since then, several Presidents of the United States endorsed Father’s Day: Woodrow Wilson approved this day in 1916, Calvin Coolidge supported Father’s Day in 1924, Lyndon Johnson signed a Presidential Proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day, and, in 1972, Richard Nixon established a permanent national observance of Father’s Day to be held on the third Sunday of June.


As we honor all men who nurture and care for children, we remember the men who have and continue to be our first responders. We remember and honor one of Princeton’s finest, Patrolman Walter B. Harris. Patrolman Harris was born and raised in Princeton, NJ, educated in the segregated Princeton Elementary School, and graduated from Princeton High School. He was a noted tennis and basketball player.


During his adult life he served with the Princeton Auxiliary Police before serving as the second African American policeman in the Borough of Princeton. Patrol Officer Harris was a proud public servant who honorably embraced love of family and loyalty to justice.


On February 2, 1946, Patrol Officer Harris responded to a disturbance at a men’s social club right across the street from his home. As a law-abiding citizen and policeman, he attempted to end the disturbance among three men. He was shot in this brave attempt. At the age of 31, after three years of dedicated service, Patrol Officer Harris was the first police officer in Princeton to give his life for the protection of the residents of Princeton.


There had been a plaque to honor Patrol Officer Harris at what was then Borough Hall. In January 2014, when the Princeton Police Departments merged, they were told about the life and service of Patrol Officer Harris. To pay honor to Patrol Officer Harris for his dedicated service, the Princeton Police Department held a celebration and presented a proclamation that drew police officers, family members, and many citizens of Princeton to show respect for his life and service.


Every year February 2nd is dedicated as “Patrol Officer Walter B. Harris Day” when Princeton flags are lowered to half-mast, bagpipes are played, and police officers, family and friends gather at 400 Witherspoon Street where a monument has been erected in his memory to honor his life and service.


Patrol Officer Harris’ older daughter, Ms. Monetta Harris, was not quite six years old when her father died. However, she does vividly remember the procedures that related to the acts of justice for her father. She states that her father was a loving and kind person who cared for and supported his family as well as all his sisters, sisters-in-law and their children.


Mrs. Florence Harris Broadway, his younger daughter, was three years old and was too young to comprehend what had happened to her father. She and her sister did not have the life experience of growing up with their father who cared so much for his family and the community. She does, however, remember being very proud of him.


Mrs. Broadway is thankful for her late cousin, Ms. Lucy Harris Hall, who shared many memories of her father and Ms. Hall’s uncle. She is grateful that Lucy was present to see her Uncle memorialized.


Both daughters are thankful that their mother, Mrs. Florence Harris Twyman, maintained an album of all the news clippings and various life pictures of their father—a lasting memory for Patrol Officer Harris’ children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The album pictures and articles may be found on the Princeton Police website.


Patrol Officer Walter B. Harris was a man of valor who is worthy of a place of honor in Princeton, New Jersey.


Thank you, Patrol Officer Harris.


Contributed by Shirley A. Satterfield

Community Calendar

WJHCS Trustees Recent Accomplishments and Honors:


Honoree: Leighton Newlin

Date: January 5, 2022

Elected: Princeton Councilmember


Honoree: Rev. Gregory Smith

Award: Ordination and Installation as Pastor

Date: November 20, 2021

Awarded By: Second Calvary Baptist Church, Hopewell, NJ



Honoree: Shirley Satterfield

Award: Community Engagement Award

Date: November 17, 2021

Awarded By: Princeton University and Pace Center for Civic Engagement


Honoree: Shirley A. Satterfield

Award: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award

Date: January 16, 2021

Awarded By: New Jersey Education Association (NJEA)

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