REMEMBERING A DARK TIME IN CLAREMONT’S HISTORY
Since her husband was killed in the line of duty 30 years ago, Sue Lange has only missed two services at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Lange returned once again last week to honor her husband, Gregory Lange, police chief of Claremont, who was gunned down and beaten while responding to a domestic disturbance on July 5, 1988.
“It is so moving,” Lange says. “It is on such a grand scale.”
Soon Lange will have a chance to remember her husband as well as other fallen police officers at the Southeast Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial in Rochester. During a service at Solider’s Field Friday night, Lange and other police officers unveiled the site for the new memorial slated for construction this summer.
“This is going to be so good for a lot of families,” Lange said.
In honor of the 30thanniversary of her husband’s death, Lange spoke at the memorial service during National Police Week. She recalled how her life turned upside down in the tiny little community of Claremont.
“It was a time when just breathing for me was quite an accomplishment,” Lange said. “Our world was in total chaos and out of control. My life was so much about ‘we’ and ‘us’ and not about ‘I,’ and I found myself in a new and cruel world.”
After her husband’s death, Lange became involved with Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS). It is a national organization devoted to helping surviving spouses of police officers killed in the line of duty. She has surrounded herself with love and support from people within the organization—many of which replaced friends she thought she had at the time of Greg’s death.
Lange said, “Cops helped me find me again and filled me with hope and truly saved my life. The old me is forever gone, but they helped me find a different version living a new normal and found the voice I needed to help other survivors.”
She says each and every time she has been able to tell her story or taken on a new endeavor she has gotten back 10-fold more than she put into it. “It all is quite humbling because all I have ever wanted was that Greg never be forgotten,” Lange said, adding that if what happened to Greg would perhaps have a teachable moment for other others, then she calls her endeavors a success.
“I would hope Greg is proud of how I have lived my life without him,” she said.
Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson thanked Lange and other fallen officer survivors. “We always try to put you first,” he said. “It is our job to support our survivor families.”
Torgerson said the greatest fear of police survivors is that their loved one will be forgotten and not remembered after the officer funeral. “We will always be here and remember,” he assured the group of many spouses of both fallen and current officers in attendance. “No survivor should ever be felt left out.”
He challenged everyone to do a better job in supporting the families of fallen police officers.