Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Dedicated ‘Father’ of DPS Says He Gave His Best to Georgetown

Officer Anthony Meyers rolls into the Department of Public Safety office every day around 3 p.m. to the smell of coffee and fresh Wisemiller’s sandwiches.

“Has anyone seen my Pappy?” he calls jokingly, as everyone tilts their heads toward the closet. Crouched in the corner with a grin on his face, Sergeant Eugene T. Valentine waits in the closet like a kid playing hide-and-go-seek. He stands pigeon-toed with his DPS hat perched high on his head and slightly to the side. His little potbelly pushes through the gold buttons of his blue uniform, and he is coveting a half-eaten Hostess cream-filled cupcake as he laughs about hiding from his colleague.

“Heehee!” Meyers says in a Pillsbury Doughboy voice as he pokes Valentine in the stomach after finding him. “Pappy, you need a haircut,” he adds, laughing at his completely bald head, except for the one little hair that sticks straight up out the top. “Your Viagra hair is getting a little long.”

Valentine fills his white coffee mug one more time before preparing to face another day as a DPS Sergeant. He hops in his police car and sinks down until his head is peering just above the dashboard. As he begins to make his rounds for the day, a buzz blurts through the radio and Valentine replies diligently.

“Heehee!” comes through the speakers in eyers’s mocking voice again. Some jokes never get old.

After 37 and a half years working for DPS, Valentine retired his badge and submitted his final time sheet last Friday.

“At this point, I think I’ve given my best at Georgetown and it’s time to step down,” Valentine said.

Valentine remembers everything about getting the job at DPS. It was April 14, 1964, and he was flipping steaks and burgers at a delicatessen in Alexandria. His co-worker’s husband was an officer and set up an interview. He was hired on the spot.

His life’s ambition was to be a police officer.

“It’s a very rewarding and challenging ambition, because there’s never a dull moment,” Valentine said.

But, he was never able to meet the requirements until the Georgetown job came along. It wasn’t academic requirements, or even lack of training that had held him back. He was just too small.

“I never fit the build. I was small in stature and didn’t meet the requirements,” said Valentine, then a 130-pound 24-year-old.

Valentine began working when the hourly wage was $1.53 and Bill Clinton was a freshman.

Before the days of DPS cars and radios, he would drive around in a three-wheeled scooter with a boxed-in carriage on the back, stopping at campus phones every hour to make the routine calls to the office. Occasionally the DPS officers played intra-mural baseball on Kehoe Field, in between breaking up parties and making daily rounds.

“Back in the ’60s – that was a wild area. It was a wild time with the streaking and wild hairdos, and demonstrations on campus over things like the housing or professors,” he said.

“Everything we came across was challenging. We would either deal with it, or ask advice how to deal with it,” he said.

The ’70s brought some change for Valentine, as he “made rank” and became a sergeant, and switched from the day shift to the night shift for nine years.

Huddled and shivering at night, tears would well up in his eyes from the cold as the tiny man was assigned to bundle up and guard Healy Gates. One of his favorite jobs, however, was working part-time for Warner Brothers during the filming of The Exorcist. For four or five dollars an hour, he was responsible for guarding the house on Prospect Street in the movie from the dozens of tourists at night.

Valentine switched again to work the 3-11 p.m. shift for the last 23 years, because it meant he “wouldn’t have to fight the traffic coming to work.” As a husband and father of three girls and a boy, however, Valentine’s shifts took their toll.

“He always had to miss holiday parties, and we didn’t get to see him that much because we were in school. When he came home at night, we would already be in bed,” his daughter Monica Martin said. In the mornings, Valentine would get out of bed at 11 or 12, long after the kids went to school. At least, Martin said, he had Sundays and Mondays off. He would sometimes gather with the family and watch movies like Police Academy, which, according to Martin, Valentine found amusing.

Valentine sometimes brought his kids onto campus “to let them see what their father would do during the day,” he said.

“It was very exciting when he showed us around. We loved spending time in the cafeteria and playing with the vending machines,” Martin said, laughing.

When the ’90s came along, Valentine’s career peaked.

“My favorite decade was the ’90s. Truth be speaking, it was because I was closer to getting out of here. I love my job, but I wanted to get out and enjoy life because I haven’t done that, I’ve been working the whole time,” Valentine said.

Valentine has been with Georgetown through the best and the worst. He has changed offices at least six times, watched more than 24 new buildings be built, and had over 9,776 dinner breaks of homemade fish or chicken sent by his wife, or a Wisemiller’s Peggy’s Special, with everything but hot peppers. He has helped escort Clinton onto campus for speeches so many times, “people in the office are wondering when he’s going to stop coming,” he said.

After everything he has been through, Valentine was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at his farewell party last weekend, his fourth award from Georgetown. Peering out into the crowd of faces, some former DPS officers reuniting again after many years, he spoke to the crowd who had grown to know him as “Val.”

“He is a man of simple words, simple but influential,” Meyers said.

If sent to break up a student fight or assign orders to officers of lower rank, Valentine’s philosophy was personability rather than power.

“If we are assigned to be a jerk to someone, we have to do it. But the thing about Sergeant Valentine is that he always brought it down to a personal level. No matter how tough times were or things appeared to be out of control, he always stayed calm and treated everyone fairly,” Meyers said.

Valentine was one of the most well-respected members of the staff, Meyers said. He represented the department. He was the “father.”

“It was like coming to work wasn’t coming to work. You were coming home,” Meyers said.

So what comes next for a man who’s home has been the same for 37 years?

“Maybe I’ll do a little traveling, a little fishing.” He said. “If you’ve been used to doing something for 37 years, what else are you going to do?”

It won’t be easy for the DPS staff to move on without Valentine’s light-hearted personality to greet them every day.

When Meyers strolled into the office this week, he made the routine call, “Has anyone seen my Pappy?” No one’s head tilted toward the closet this time. There was only silence.

“You could tell there was just empty space,” Meyers said. “But, you know that Virginia Slims commercial, `You’ve come a long way, baby!’ Well, he’s come a long way, baby.”

More to Discover