Heritage, 2010, Volume 4 Page: 6
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By Tom C Doell
orty-seven years ago, on Friday, November 22, 1963,
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Min-
utes after the shooting, it became evident that the shots were
fired from the Texas School Book Depository building. An
eyewitness provided a description of the gunman, and Dallas
Police dispatchers broadcast "the suspect in the shooting...
is reported to be an unknown white male, approximately
thirty, slender build, height: five foot ten inches, weight:
165 pounds..." Dispatch then ordered Officer J.D. Tippit to
move into Oak Cliff, an area that he had worked in before
and knew well.
At about 1:15 p.m., Officer Tippit came upon Lee Harvey
Oswald walking down the sidewalk of Tenth Street, a quiet
residential street in Oak Cliff. Something caught his eye, and
he decided to stop and question the man. We will never know
what Oswald did to attract Officer Tippit's attention. In those
days, it was not uncommon for the police to pull up to some-
one and talk to them through the window of the police car.
A witness saw Oswald walk over to the passenger window of
Officer Tippit's car, bend over, and speak to him through the
window. What was said is unknown, but something made Of-
ficer Tippit suspicious, and he decided to get out of the car.
Tippit's former partner said that J.D. had a habit of resting
his hand on the butt of his holstered gun when he talked to
people. Maybe he did just that when he walked around the car
to talk to Oswald. In an instant, Oswald pulled out a .38 cali-
ber revolver and shot Officer Tippit four times at point blank
range. Four people witnessed the shooting and saw Oswald flee
the scene on foot.
Fast forward now to 2010. On Thanksgiving Day, one of
the Texas Historical Foundation's Dallas directors was watch-
ing a news report by Brad Watson on WFAA News 8. Watson
was interviewing Farris Rookstool at the site of Officer Tippit's
shooting on Tenth Street. Rookstool, a former FBI analyst who
was custodian of the Kennedy assassination records for the bu-
reau, had volunteered to help the Old Oak Cliff Conservation
League prepare an application to get a Texas Historical Com-
mission marker for the site of Officer J.D. Tippit's murder. In
the interview with Brad Watson, Rookstool asked for help in
raising private funds to pay the $1,500 cost of a THC marker
and to build a permanent memorial on the site. He said that
"having a marker here is very important to mark the spot and
educate future generations." The THF director watching the
report thought so as well and brought the matter to the atten-
tion of the Foundation's executive officers.
Later that day, representatives from the Texas Historical
Foundation contacted Farris Rookstool to offer the first finan-
cial support for this worthy project honoring an exceptional
Texan, Officer J.D. Tippit. The hope is that THF can be a
catalyst to help raise all of the required funds for this proj-
ect, which has received approval from the Dallas Independent
School District since the location of the marker is on property
intended for the new Adamson High School. The Old Oak
Cliff Conservation League will manage the project with input
from the Dallas Police Department and Officer Tippit's wife
The Texas Historical Foundation is excited to be a part of
this planned memorial honoring Officer J.D. Tippit, a man
who embodied the essential ingredients of Texas exceptional-
ism-giving his life while trying to stop Lee Harvey Oswald's
Tom Doell is a businessman from Dallas. Send comments on this
column to: PO. Box 50314, Austin, Texas 78763.
HERITAGEf Volume 4 2010
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2010, Volume 4, periodical, 2010; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254219/m1/6/: accessed November 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.