It’s hard to be one of the first to do important things — the first in a family to graduate, the first to walk on the moon, the first at so many of life’s milestones. These “firsts” often pave the way for others. Duncan is going to honor one of their trail blazers, Grace Lane.
Lane was the very first certified female police officer in Duncan during the 60s.
As the first certified female police officer of the city, she is now donating her Duncan Police uniform to the Stephens County Historical Society museum. There will be a ceremony from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 26 and the next day she will celebrate her 95th birthday.
Lane started as a juvenile officer in 1961.
“I had a next door neighbor that was a member of the police force. He offered me a job and that time we didn’t have facility to handle the children that were in trouble, either delinquent or neglected,” she said. “I loved that work I did that for about three years and then I transferred over to the regular police department.”
Lane took the next step that no others had done before.
“There was two other (females) who worked over in traffic back when we had parking meters, but I was the only one that went off the regular training and put in the hours that it took to be certified” Lane said. “I was the first one to go through that in Duncan and maybe Stephens County — but I’m not sure about the county. I took a leave of absence in 64 and then went back about 67 I think.”
The work is what kept Lane at it.
“I liked the kids and it was just a challenge. It was something that I felt like that I really had to do,” she said. “I thought it (being a female) was a pretty good advantage really. I made a lot of good friends. I was treated royally to be honest.”
While police work has changed some Lane said there was always a common thread.
“We had so many different (calls) you wouldn’t believe some of them,” she said. “It was a lot different then, than it is now but I guess there is always someone who doesn’t want to obey the law for different reasons.”
In October of 1969 Lane went to her morning dispatch shift where she stayed until January 1984. When her husband, Odes, retired from Halliburton she went to the dayshift and then retired herself July 10, 1985.
Lane’s daughter Tonya Coffman talked about her mother’s time as an officer and some the of work that came home.
“There was one time when there was two baby boys — a 1 year old and a 2 year old, who’s mother had run off with them from California and she (Grace) took care of them for two or three months until their dad came from California,” Coffman said. “We actually kept them in our home. There was no facility at the time. I can remember many nights waking up with a little kid asleep on the couch in the living room.”
Coffman said she remembered her mom being well liked.
“Everyone loved her and respected her. All the guys that she worked with kind of considered her their second mom,” she said. “A lot of times she would fix breakfast for them.”
For current female officers or to young women thinking about law enfacement Lane hoped her uniform might provoke some thought.
“I think it would make (other females) appreciate the job,” she said. “And to know that someone was the first one and pioneered the way for the others.”
Lane currently lives in Edmond near some of her children. Her three kids and their families will be there for the presentation.