August 19, 2013

Feature Obituary: Clement I. Dodd, 76, served as Secret Service officer

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

He dedicated most of his life to protecting Portland's citizenry as well as putting his life on the line to serve a U.S. president.

PASSAGES

Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person's family and friends in lasting ways.

Family members said that Clement I. Dodd, 76, of Windham died Thursday following a brief battle with cancer.

Dodd served on the Portland police force for 23 years before becoming the Secret Service's supervisory officer in charge of the security detail at the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport.

"He took his job with the Secret Service very seriously," said his longtime companion, Jean Atherton of Windham. "He felt a very heavy burden to protect the Bushes."

Mr. Dodd was born in Portland. After graduating from Portland High School, he attended the University of Southern Maine, where he earned a degree in criminal justice.

In his early 20s, he joined the Portland Police Department, following in the footsteps of his father, Clement O. Dodd -- the city's former fire chief -- and his grandfather, Oscar, a former city firefighter.

Mr. Dodd worked his way up from patrolman to captain of the department's detective division until his retirement in 1981. He also served as head of the department's criminal investigation division.

During his career with the Portland police, he distinguished himself through his courageous actions.

In 1974, Mr. Dodd was one of three policemen to receive the department's award for meritorious service. The award stemmed from a gunfight that broke out with an armed suspect.

According to a Portland Press Herald article, Mr. Dodd entered a building and tried to persuade an armed suspect -- the man had shot and wounded another person -- to surrender.

Dodd offered to become a hostage in exchange for allowing the wounded man to receive medical treatment. The suspect refused and Dodd fired two shots while two other officers subdued the gunman.

"The officers who worked with him said they would follow him anywhere," Atherton said.

Two days after he retired from the Portland Police Department, he was hired by the Secret Service to supervise the security detail at the Bush compound in Kennebunkport. Mr. Dodd worked with that security detail for 19 years, retiring in 2000.

During those years, he traveled with George H.W. Bush -- who was vice president from 1981 to 1989 and president from 1989 to 1993 -- to Russia and attended the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor with Bush.

"On a personal note, Barbara and I are especially grateful to you for the outstanding job you have done for us and for our family during your 19 year career. You have our utmost respect and gratitude," President Bush wrote in a letter to Mr. Dodd that was dated June 5, 2000.

"He was a man who liked his routine, but he wouldn't think twice about helping someone out," said his daughter-in-law, Lita Dodd of South Portland. "He would put his life on the line for someone in need or for someone in danger."

Dodd and her husband, Tim Dodd, cared for Mr. Dodd in their home during the final weeks of his life.

"He was always afraid of dying alone," Dodd said. "But he died surrounded by his loved ones."

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com

 

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