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August 27, 2014

Fallen Officer’s Widow Shares Story of Journey from Tragedy

November 18, 2011

Lorraine Yaslowitz speaks in chapel on Thursday.
Lorraine Yaslowitz speaks in chapel.
Palm Beach Atlantic University graduate and elementary schoolteacher Lorraine Gallione Yaslowitz remembers the exact date, Feb. 7, 1992, that she met the classmate who would be her future husband, Jeffrey Yaslowitz '93.

"I just knew when we met that God had him for me," Yaslowitz said, speaking at her alma mater on Thursday before about 400 students, faculty, staff and alumni during a special Homecoming chapel service in the DeSantis Family Chapel.

Yaslowitz recalled their instant friendship, their whirlwind courtship and their marriage the following year. A few years later, as they started their family, she said, her husband joined the St. Petersburg Police Department and became a K-9 officer.

She recalled a conversation she had with her husband in which they pondered the many blessings God had given them.

"I said to him, 'We’re so rich. We’re so blessed with what He had given us,'" she said, "His dream job, my dream job, three great kids, a beautiful home. He has provided us with everything. And he would say, 'But heaven is better.'"

Officer Yaslowitz's words proved tragically prophetic when, on Jan. 24, he was one of two St. Petersburg police officers killed in the line of duty. He and Sgt. Tom Baitinger were fatally wounded as they tried to arrest a felon who was hiding in the attic of a house. Officer Yaslowitz, 39, had served with the department for 11 years.

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Lorraine Yaslowitz said she had not heard the news of the shootings when she was escorted from her classroom that morning and rushed to the hospital. Without knowing exactly what had happened to her husband, she soon learned from a doctor that he didn’t make it.

Immediately she prayed, she said. "The Lord revealed himself to me in a way I had never, ever felt before," she said.

"I could almost hear the Lord whispering to me, 'Stay with me, I have a plan. Just try to get this through this, get past it, and stay with me.'"

Yaslowitz said she felt the Lord asking her to look at things from His perspective, and it gave her an overwhelming sense of peace, she said.

A few days after her husband’s death, Yaslowitz appeared on a local radio show. Since then, she said she has heard from many people who were moved by the interview.

Something else became clear to her as well. "The Lord is going to use this in a much bigger way," she said.

In the months since the shooting, a street in St. Petersburg has been renamed in honor of the slain officers. Also, with the help of friends and the community, Yaslowitz organized a charity walk/run in St. Petersburg honor of her husband and other fallen officers. Both Yaslowitz and her husband enjoyed running.

The run was held in May, and it is expected to become an annual event.

In conjunction with the run, she has started an organization, Partners for Life, to help people who lose loved ones due to senseless acts of violence, she said.

"I just knew God was giving me an overabundance of something, and I had to give it away," she said, adding that at least one family has already received help through the fund.

In the past 11 months, Yaslowitz said the Lord has given her joy and so much peace through it all. She said that some of the Bible passages that have sustained her include Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11.

"Even though I've felt more grief than I've ever felt in my life, I have felt much joy because I know I'm going to see him again," she said.

She looks forward to being reunited with her husband and with Jesus, she said. "I’ve never been more homesick than I am now."

Yaslowitz is the mother of three children, Caleb, Haylie and Calen. Accompanying her on Thursday were her mother, Bette Gallione; her aunt, Lorraine Seabrook; and Seabrook’s fiancé, Earl Harmon. Seabrook is a resident of Palm Beach County.

 

11/2011General News

 

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