Mr. Speaker, throughout his law enforcement career, fellow Texas officers called him ‘‘Officer Friendly.’’ He spent his entire life in service to America.
Richard Zipp was born in Florida in 1949. He spent his youth in Albany, New York, with his mom, three younger brothers, and aunt and uncle.
He moved to Ingleside, Texas, in 1966 and lived with the Harvey Family. He graduated from Ingleside High School in 1968.
Richard served America in combat in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War (1968–1972). He was a platoon sniper and was shot in the shoulder on April 11, 1969.
He was later awarded the Purple Heart. Richard was never bitter about the war, but he was proud to serve as a United States Marine.
While in the Marines, he also played TAPS for burials at sea for Marines and sailors on U.S. Naval Ships. When he was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1972, he had already graduated from the International Chief of Police Academy at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Richard joined the Houston Police Department, where he served 20 years in the Houston Police Department Honor Guard continuing to play TAPS for fallen Texas Peace Officers. Richard marched in the Honor Guard for the inauguration of President George Bush Sr., carrying the Texas flag.
He participated in the Honor Guard ceremonies for National Police week in Washington, D.C. and Texas. It was while Richard was on patrol for HPD that he met his wife Nelda.
Richard also found time to be Director of Security for Houston Theater Under the Stars. After leaving the Houston Police Department, Richard joined the Harris County Texas Sheriff Department where he continued his service in the Honor Guard.
He also served as bailiff in the courts, including my court when I was a judge. This is where ‘‘Officer Friendly’’ took care of court security and looked after the jury during trials.
His demeanor with juries made them at ease and made them realize their importance to our justice system. Richard retired in 2003 and he and Nelda moved to Georgetown, Texas.
He joined the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department and was Sergeant over courthouse safety and security. Finally, he retired in 2003 after 35 years in law enforcement.
Somewhere along the way, he volunteered to be in charge of security at the weddings of my four children. Richard and Nelda were active members of the Georgetown Church of Christ, always taking time to visit seniors.
He also had a special fondness for the Cherokee Home for Children. Officer Friendly spent a lot of time helping veterans.
He was a member of the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and the American Legion. Late last year, Richard was diagnosed with cancer.
He knew his days were numbered, but had an amazing attitude about it all. He said, ‘‘I can wear pain but I’d rather wear peace.’’
When I talked to Richard, he was always the positive guy. He let me know that since he was a Christian, he was anxious to see the Lord.
Officer Zipp died last week. Last Saturday was Richard’s funeral.
His neighbors decorated his front lawn with numerous American flags in his honor. Both the Houston Police Department, Honor Guard and the Harris County Sheriff’s Department Honor Guard helped to conduct the very moving ceremony.
Richard was proud of his service as a Marine. Richard was proud to be married to Nelda.
He was proud to wear the several badges of a Texas Peace Officer. He was proud to be an American.
Richard was the true patriot. TAPS has been played for the final time.
This time it was for ‘‘Officer Friendly.’’ Semper Fi, Richard Zipp, Semper Fi.
And that’s just the way it is.