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1937 - Pioneer aviator E.B. Christopher and passenger killed in crash of light plane on Ridge Route near Gorman [story]
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Commentary by Dr. Gene Dorio
| Wednesday, Mar 4, 2015

genedorioCaring for those who are hospitalized allows recognition of impalpable forces that go beyond healing skills of doctors and nurses.  Many times it involves subtle clues surrounding patients from unexpected sources supporting their health and survival.

Patricia Pelino was hospitalized and recovering from an infection.  One day, knowing her nearby son and daughter were out of town, there were flowers at her bedside – not atypical in a hospital setting.  Uniquely, though, they came from the SCV Sheriff’s Station, delivered by Sgt. Jeff Curran.  “They’re calla lilies,” she murmured softly, “my husband’s favorite.”

Thirty-seven years ago, Arthur Pelino, a Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s deputy, was killed in the line of duty serving our community.  Patricia was left a widow, having to raise six children.

Recently in the news is the unbearable thought of your child leaving home and not returning.  Just as difficult is the thought your-law enforcement spouse not returning home.  Understanding our shared fear of these problems might hopefully one day lead to a common solution.

Deputy Arthur Pelino

Deputy Arthur Pelino

They “courted” for five years, got married and had their family.  Initially Art worked for General Motors, but then he went through training at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Academy, graduating March 19, 1959, so he could serve his community.  While he “brought home the porridge,” she remained Mama Bear.

Not stereotypical, he didn’t like donuts, and he was not a drinker or smoker. “Foremost, he had great respect for his colleagues and the public, bringing this sense of responsibility with him to work every day.”

“He loved flowers, especially calla lilies, but wasn’t a good gardener.  Our six kids kept us busy, but he was always there to help me, washing dishes and doing laundry, and trying to keep a neat home.  He was a great dad and a good guy.”

Most of all, “every night he would fill my face with kisses, so I would have pleasant dreams, and every day when he left, we would kiss and wave goodbye.  He was very special to me and kept me warm at night.”

Deputy Arthur Pelino was patrolling 30 miles north of Santa Clarita near Gorman when he pulled over a driver who shot and killed him.  This was March 19, 1978, exactly 19 years after graduating from the LASD Academy.

Patricia Pelino, Feb. 27, 2015. Photo: Dr. Gene Dorio

Patricia Pelino, Feb. 27, 2015. Photo: Dr. Gene Dorio

Mama Bear was now alone, but she and her kids still had family – the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which has helped them ever since.  “I wouldn’t have made it without them, financially and emotionally.”

Losing her husband made her suffer, but the resultant verdict against the perpetrator made her irate.

“He received three years in prison.  It meant to me that’s all my husband’s life was worth as a law enforcement officer, and it made his colleagues targets.”

Over the years, Patricia kept her family together, and two of her children who live in the area acknowledge what a wonderful Mama Bear she has been.

She is now bedridden, her emotional scars well healed and her “family” close by.  But there are no more nightly kisses and no more waves goodbye.  The struggle was made much more difficult on that March day when her husband didn’t return home.

Discharged from the hospital, and as I was leaving her residence, she asked that the covers be pulled over her.  Shadows of calla lilies were on her sheets.

They are still keeping her warm at night.

 

Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D., is a housecall geriatric physician on staff at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and has been engaged as an advocate in many community activities. The views expressed in this column as his alone.

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4 Comments

  1. Donna Payne Donna Payne says:

    Robin, is this wonderful woman still receiving Calla lilies? I would love to donate to the fund to continue with this. Please let me know. DD

  2. Andy R says:

    There is much more detail about Deputy Pelino’s murder than is written here. An excellent summary is here:

    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSvcid=518427&GRid=16048467&

  3. Gene Dorio, M.D. says:

    I am aware of the above linked details, but this was not the focus of the article. Loss of life, whether a child or law enforcement spouse, impacts us all. Understanding humanity on both sides might lead us to a solution.

    Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.

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