Const. Cecil Runions was an hour or so into his Jan. 26, 1974 night shift when the dispatcher directed him to an east end address.
A woman had called to say that her estranged husband was threatening to harm their infant child whom he had his house.
Sounded like one of those run-of-the-mill domestic calls. It turned out to be anything but routine.
Runions, arriving alone, knocked on the door of the home. When it opened he found himself looking down the barrel of a loaded rifle held by the agitated estranged husband who warned the officer to leave or he would shoot him.
A mis-spoken word or a wrong move and Runions could have become the first Cornwall police officer killed in the line of duty since Special Const. John Robert Davey was shot and killed on Sept. 6, 1892.
Cool and collected Runions engaged the man in small talk then at the right moment somehow managed to wrestle the weapon away and place him under arrest. A search of the home found the unconscious child in a bathtub filled with water. Runions’ attempt to revive the child was in vain. Evidence showed that the father had drowned the child.
The young father was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Baby killers are not popular in federal prisons.
A year later, on May 12, 1975, Runions became the first recipient of the Police Officer of the Year Award presented by the Optimist Club.
It could not have been a more deserving choice.
Retired city police inspector Brendon Wells as a young officer worked with Runions, at one time on the same shift.
Wells, who gave the eulogy at Runions’ funeral in March 2003, called the easy-going, pipe-smoking Runions “a good person, a good officer, a good colleague.” He was the kind of partner that had your back.
“He was a man of integrity,” said Wells. “He was as honest as the day is long. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Runions retired from the Cornwall force as a much respected, by rank-and-file and peers, inspector.
ALSO THIS WEEK IN 1975 – City council got an earful from the pulpit over plans to build a second senior citizens residence in the centre core of the city. Nativity parish priest Rev. Edouard Berube, at a Sunday mass, told his congregation it was time for elected officials to wake up to the needs of east Cornwall and its large francophone population. He urged parishioners to march on city hall. At the Monday night council meeting following the priest’s verbal tongue lashing Ron Bergeron, president of the East Cornwall Business Association, said the decision to build the second seniors residence at First and Augustus streets was another example of city hall overlooking the east end. He said east Cornwall residents wanted “positive action, not excuses.” With tongue-in-cheek, he said perhaps city hall should be moved to the east end for a few years. … Jock Dalbec was named winner of the Jacques Richard Memorial Trophy. Cornwall Royals goaltender Mario Vien was presented with the outstanding junior athlete award. … William Roddy of Alymer, Ont. was appointed principal of CCVS. … Cornwall Royals traded forward Ron Davidson and a third-round draft pick to Kingston Canadians for Cam MacGregor, Dave Ottenhoff, Tim Torrance and Gord Botting. Davidson asked for the trade so he could attend Queen’s University law school. At the OHL draft, the Royals selected goaltender Tim Bernhardt in the first round. Graeme Nicholson was taken in the second round and Mike Gibb was the third-round pick. … SD and G Crown Attorney Donald Johnson in a hard-hitting Law Enforcement Week speech called capital punishment a “necessary weapon” in the fight against crime and that it should be retained by the federal government. … City council put its stamp of approval on a 357 lot subdivision planned by Heavenly Home Developments for the Easton-Leonia area of the city. … Century-old Thornhill Manor in Lancaster was destroyed by fire. When built, it sat on a 350-acre estate.
HERE AND THERE Florida is allowing teachers to carry sidearms in the classroom if the county they teach in agrees. The one county that turned down the offer was Broward which includes the city of Parkland where last February 17 people were shot and killed by a high school intruder who in a bid to save his own life has offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. Prosecutors are going for the death penalty. … If the proposed super high school (to replace CCVS and SLHS) does become a reality one site on the short list could be a piece of the former Domtar property. Last year the former parking lot and wood room (next to Benson Centre) was sold to a city businessman. Lots of activity (digging and soil testing) has been going on last two weeks.
TRIVIA After buying Rivermead and Maple Leaf dairies, this became the only locally owned dairy in the city. It was bought out in 1975 by Becker’s.
TRIVIA ANSWER In 1957 Cornwall native Orval Tessier was recipient of the Gil Julien Trophy as Ontario’s top French Canadian athlete. In the season just over, Tessier led the Quebec Aces to the Quebec Senior Hockey League title with 81 points on 43 goals and 38 assists. The trophy was named after Ottawa Le Droit newspaper sports editor.
SPORTS STUFF . Don Cherry turns 86 next season so it is reasonable to believe that the expiration date for Coach’s Corner is on the horizon, albeit he shows no signs of slowing down. Potential heirs to the Coach’s Corner throne include Brian Burke who has reinvented himself as an entertaining hockey broadcaster on Sportsnet. … It has been a wonky NHL playoff run. For the first time ever the final eight didn’t have one conference or division winner.
FACTS’N’FIGURES The St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project was 40 years in the making and took four years to build. It employed 25,000 people. It cost $470 million with Canada picking up the tab for 71% of the cost. Flooding displaced 6,500 people, destroyed seven villages, three hamlets, 531 homes, 225 farms, 17 churches and 18 cemeteries. In all, 2,000 bodies were re-interned, most at the new mega cemetery, St. Lawrence Valley. Some chose not to re-bury their loved ones, instead just relocating the gravestones. It not known how many bodies are buried under the waters of Lake St. Lawrence.
QUOTABLE “The one function television news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were.” – David Brinkley