OFFICER JOHN T. CLANCY, JR. – EOW: 12-24-1949
By: Officer Mike Severance #2866
On December 24, 1949 around 11:40 p.m., Officer John T. Clancy, Jr. was on duty and operating his police motorcycle on Aurora Ave. at Galer St. It is unknown if Officer Clancy was responding to a dispatched call, returning to his station after handling a call, or patrolling an assigned area of responsibility. SPD motorcycles did not have two-way radios at that time. Officer Clancy’s motorcycle collided with a vehicle driven by Walter H. Neumann. Officer Clancy sustained multiple injuries. He was transported to Harborview County Hospital. He never regained consciousness, and he died at 1:30 a.m. on December 28, 1949. He was survived by his wife, Norma Jean, and his five month-old son, Michael. Officer Clancy’s funeral was held on December 30, 1949 at the Mittelstadt Chapel. He was buried at Washelli Cemetery.
The at-fault driver, Walter H. Neumann was arrested. Neuman was charged with drunken and reckless driving on the basis of physical tests and two Harger Drunkometer tests giving readings of .321 and .309. The legal limit at that time was .15.
John Thomas Clancy, Jr. was born in Seattle on March 30, 1922. He grew up in West Seattle and graduated from West Seattle High School. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1940. He served in the Pacific during WW II, and was honorably discharged after the war. He was commissioned as a Seattle Police Officer on December 10, 1946. He married Norma Jean Holmes on January 20, 1949. At the time of his death, the family lived at 110 E. 54th St. Norma Jean Clancy remarried in 1952, and Michael was adopted by her new husband. Norma lives in Hawaii. Officer Clancy’s son, Lt. Col. Michael John Baxter, U.S. Army (Retired), died in 2008. He was a graduate of VMI, Class of 1971, a veteran of the Vietnam War, and a recipient of the Bronze Star and an Air Medal. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Two grandsons of Officer Clancy live in Virginia.
In January 1998, the Chief of Police nominated 49 Seattle Police Officers for the Washington Law Enforcement Medal of Honor. They were killed in the line of duty between 1881 and 1977. Nine of those nominations were rejected by the Medal of Honor Committee, including the nomination of Officer John Clancy. Two of those nine were re-nominated in 2009 and 2012 and awarded the Medal of Honor. Officer Clancy and four other SPD Motorcycle Officers were re-nominated in 2012 and 2013, but the SPD Honor Guard Commander, Ty Elster, would not forward the nominations to the Chief of Police for his consideration. After a personal meeting in November 2013 with Chief of Police Pugel, he endorsed all five nominations. On May 2, 2014, Officer John Clancy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. John’s widow was unable to attend the ceremony. John’s grandson, Ryan Baxter, was presented with his grandfather’s Medal of Honor by the Governor.