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Memorial unveiled on 100th anniversary of shooting of county sheriff’s deputy

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published August 14, 2017

 Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard unveils the memorial plaque honoring Deputy Sheriff Albert Anderson Aug. 12 at the intersection of Woodward Avenue and Nine Mile Road, where Anderson was killed 100 years ago to the day.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard unveils the memorial plaque honoring Deputy Sheriff Albert Anderson Aug. 12 at the intersection of Woodward Avenue and Nine Mile Road, where Anderson was killed 100 years ago to the day.

Photo by Sean Work


FERNDALE — On Aug. 12, 1917, Oakland County Deputy Sheriff Albert Anderson lost his life at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Nine Mile Road.

Anderson, who had just finished a shift at the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, and who had a real estate business in Ferndale, had gotten off the interurban railway car at around 12:40 a.m. when he noticed a suspicious person near a business at the intersection.

Along with a man named Harvey Taylor, the two approached the suspect and began questioning him. According to a reward poster, when Taylor went to turn on a light, the suspect broke away from Anderson, ran a few feet, turned and shot Anderson in the abdomen with a .38-caliber revolver.

It was later discovered that the assailant had broken into the nearby C.F. Smith store and stolen $3.80 in pennies.

Anderson, 47, died from his injuries on Aug. 15, 1917. He left behind a wife and eight children, with two more on the way. His murder remains unsolved to this day.

One hundred years after he was shot, on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, Anderson was memorialized at the same intersection where he lost his life with a plaque bearing his picture and his story.

Before family, friends and residents of the city, the plaque was unveiled in the Crow’s Nest during a ceremony in the median at Woodward Avenue and Nile Mile Road.

Some of the speakers during the ceremony were Ferndale Police Chief Timothy Collins, Mayor Dave Coulter and Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard. The Ferndale Police Department and Oakland County Sheriff’s Office honor guards also were in attendance to salute the fallen Anderson, and the Metro Detroit Police & Fire Pipes & Drums performed to open and close the ceremony.

The idea to place a permanent memorial at the median first came about when Ferndale police officer Patrick Lemke visited the Ferndale Historical Museum and noticed a reward poster detailing the incident that caused Anderson’s death.

While Anderson is on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund website and the memorial in Washington, D.C., Ferndale Police Sgt. Baron Brown said it doesn’t show that the incident occurred in Ferndale.

“We never knew about it until Officer Lemke found it and brought it to the attention of the chief with the idea that we should do something about this,” he said.

“We were kind of duty-bound to honor this man for the sacrifice he made. Conceivably, he walked in some of the same footprints that will be walked today,” Brown said.

Collins said he never knew about Anderson before it was brought to his attention, which he admitted he felt embarrassed about, as he fancies himself a historian of the city.

“I’ve lived here all my life,” he said. “My dad lived here all his life. Never heard this story, and when Pat brought it to me, I went, ‘Wow, we’ve got four months. We can actually do it on the day. We can do something on that day.’ That’s been like the mantra — to see if we can get all the planets to line up, to see if we can get it to happen today.”

Bouchard, who said Anderson is memorialized along with others in the Sheriff’s Office, said he was “absolutely appreciative” of Ferndale and the Police Department for recognizing Anderson in the community where he lost his life.

“At the time, he had a wife and eight children. So obviously, there’s a lot of relatives that didn’t have a father or a grandfather. And they obviously still feel that hole. I mean, you never fill that hole for a family that’s lost a person,” Bouchard said.

Bouchard said he also was appreciative of the opportunity to say thank-you during the ceremony to the men and women who serve today and who have served every day since that incident.

“The danger has not subsided,” he said. “It’s actually gotten more challenging, I think, for the men and women on the front lines.”

Among some of the family members during the ceremony was a tall man wearing sunglasses and holding a rose in his hands.

This was Albert Anderson, the grandson of Deputy Sheriff Albert Anderson, who was named after both his grandfather and father.

Anderson said he had heard about his grandfather from his father, who was 9 years old at the time of his dad’s death.

“My father talked about him all the time and how great he was,” he said. “He was a deputy sheriff. He owned his own real estate business in this corner right here. He was a mover and a shaker.”

Anderson first heard about the plans to memorialize his grandfather two weeks ago. It was a moment he only could sum up by saying, “Wow.”
“My grandfather is finally getting his due,” he said.

Collins said the city has been lucky over the years not to lose any officer in the city or in the line of duty, though many surrounding cities have not had such luck.

“This is the type of thing that we don’t forget, shouldn’t forget and can’t forget,” he said.

“We did have it happen on our real estate many years ago, six months before we were even a village. But still, you honor somebody that gave their life.”

Brown added that police feel the loss regardless of distance and time.

“The loss is felt whether he’s an officer that is from across the country who loses his life today, or an officer at the other end of the century that lost his life,” he said. “The loss is still felt by us. We just felt it was fitting to have some sort of … memorial to his sacrifice.”

When the sheet covering the plaque was removed, Anderson said that gazing at the memorial  was unbelievable and “more than we expected.”

Whenever he drives to Ferndale from his home in Rochester Hills, Anderson said, he comes down Woodward Avenue all the time and salutes the corner where his grandfather lost his life.

Now when Anderson travels down to Woodward and Nine Mile, he not only can salute the area where his grandfather lost his life, but the memorial that bears his name.

“My only regret is I never knew the man,” he said. “That would’ve been wonderful to know such a marvelous man.”