Greenwich Gossip

Saturday, March 26, 2011

James G. Genovese June 12, 1966-March 22, 2011

Police Officer Jim Genovese died suddenly earlier this week. He was only 44 years old, and had seemed to be in perfect health. Everyone who knew him was, and still is, in shock at the news.

Even those who didn't know him by name knew him from his smiling face at the corner of Havemeyer Place and Greenwich Avenue, where for many years he directed the traffic. It was a job he loved. Constantly dealing with the vagaries of the insouciant pedestrians and countless out-of-state motorists who either carelessly or willfully tried to ignore his commands, Jim was always patient and courteous with everyone. "Do you think holding up my hand like this means it's okay for you to go?" he would ask sheepish drivers. "Oops, sorry," they would say as they backed up to the stop line. Jim could have made tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Town if he had handed out well-deserved tickets to all the jaywalkers and stop-sign runners he encountered. But he was never seen to hand out a single one.

Dozens of police motorcycles from all over Connecticut and Westchester led the funeral procession. The funeral mass at St. Mary's was packed--standing room only. Then everyone marched down to "Jimmy's corner", where a huge American flag hung over the intersection, and a memorial weath was placed in the newly-repainted circle where he used to stand. Suddenly a loud disembodied stentorian voice was heard coming from somewhere high above the crowd: "Officer James Genovese, report to Headquarters...Officer Genovese, you may stand down. Well done, Jim." There was not a dry eye anywhere as the loudspeaker link from the Greenwich police station fell silent and Christopher Hughes played "Taps" from the lawn of the Havemeyer Building.

What a pleasure it has been these past few years to walk down Greenwich Avenue and see Jim stop the traffic as I approached the curb. "Okay to cross, Mr. Clark," he always said. "Thanks, Jimmy," I would say with a wave of the hand.

The mass card distributed at the funeral bears a poem on its back, titled Afterglow:

I'd like the memory of me to be a happy one,
I'd like to leave an afterglow of smiles when day is done...

Well, Jimmy, you got your wish. We're all smiling though our tears at our fond memories of you. Rest in peace.