People came from near and far to bid farewell to Baltimore County Police Chief Neil Behan, who retired in September after 31 years with the New York Police Department and 16 years as Baltimore County's top cop.
What a send-off it was -- 560 people filled Martin's West to pay tribute to one of the most respected police officials in the country. Highlights included a blessing from Pope John Paul II, delivered by Archbishop William Keeler; letters from President Clinton and U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno; and the introduction of Patricia and Neil Behan's family: daughter Elaine Behan; son Neil Behan Jr.; daughter Kathleen Mann and her husband, Thomas, and baby, Ryan Thomas; daughter Carol Tucci and her husband, Richard, and their children, Craig and Mark; daughter Mary Fields and her husband, Mark; and Patricia's brother, Emory Papp.
There were kudos from Lt. Timothy Caslin; Fire Chief Elwood Banister; new Police Chief Michael Gambrill; Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley; County Councilman Dutch Ruppersberger; Special Agent Donald Turnbaugh; Dave Epstein, U.S. State Department; Maryland Attorney General Joe Curran; Chuck Wexler, Police Executive Research Forum; and Monsignor Edward Lynch.
Behan received praise from three of the four county executives under whom he served -- Ted Venetoulis, Don Hutchinson and Roger Hayden. Dennis Rasmussen didn't get there in time for the public accolades, but did show up just as the party ended to wish Behan well.
WMAR-TV's Stan Stovall did a great job as emcee, and he was right at home -- his dad retired recently from the Phoenix police department after 25 years of service.
Others at the party were Judges Leonard Jacobsen, James Smith, Bob Sweeney and James Sfekas; Warren and Virginia Mix; Del. Nancy Murphy, who, I'm told, plans to announce her candidacy for Baltimore County exec; Del. Farrell Maddox; Connie Caplan; Robert Dubel; Fred Homan; Merreen Kelly; Nick Spinnato; FBI's agent-in-charge in Baltimore, Bill Coulson; Drug Enforcement Agency's Craig Chretien; Secret Service agent Joe Coppola; and Kevin O'Connor. Some who played a major role in orchestrating this send-off were Capt. George Watts; Detective Karen Gentry, the department artist who created a caricature of the chief for everyone at the party to autograph; Debbie Higgs, the chief's secretary; and Jay Miller, public information director.
Behan's plans include working with Major City Chiefs of Police, the Police Executive Research Forum and playing golf.
Baltimoreans are learning about Japanese products like Dew.Dew and Pocari Sweat, thanks to writer Caroline McKeldin and her new book, "Japanese Jive, Wacky and Wonderful Products from Japan." (Dew.Dew is candy, and Pocari Sweat is a soft drink.)
Caroline attended Roland Park Country and Dartmouth College before working in Japan for a year.
The book seems to be taking Baltimore by storm. Last weekend, there were three book-signing parties given for the author. Last Saturday, Towson attorney John Howard and his wife, Betty Ann, invited friends to meet Caroline at their Ruxton home, and last Sunday she signed books and chatted with customers for six hours at Judy Taylor-Orlinsky's Falls Road store, Japonaji, before heading to the Elkridge Club for another party. (The book is available locally at Japonaji for $9.95.)
The latter party was given by First National Bank executive Charlie Cole and his wife, Bartie, who are friends of Caroline's parents, Courtney and Ted McKeldin.
Among the guests who nibbled sushi and other Japanese goodies and chatted with Caroline about her book were Butch and Sally Michel, Sharon and Hill Michaels, Holly and Wally Lanahan, Stuart and Bill Stewart, Kathy Hardiman, Ann Cherry, Walter Sondheim, Anne Croker, Bobby and Johnnie Barroll, Ricki Baker, Martha and Punchy Peterson, Missy and Bob Wheelis, Faith Riggs, George and Carolyn Baker, and George and Suzanne Wills, who came from the Hamilton Street Club, where George's watercolor paintings were being shown.