Last week, 62 years after a Delaware State Police trooper was killed in the line of duty, the State erected a memorial to the fallen officer, Cpl. LeRoy L. LeKites.
In 1950, the 36-year-old trooper was killed while investigating an auto collision on Route 113, just north of Selbyville. While assisting another trooper, LeKites was “struck as he attempted to flag down a vehicle, which was approaching at a very high rate of speed,” according to the DSP. LeKites was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital that day, Jan. 13, 1950.
More than 60 years later, on May 3, 2012, state troopers gathered at that spot on northbound Route 113 to officially dedicate a memorial traffic sign to the fallen officer.
“I hope every time a trooper passes that sign, [he] remembers … and honors that memory,” said Lewis Schiliro, secretary of Delaware Department of Safety & Homeland Security.
LeKites’ wife, Margaret, had written a letter to the DSP after his funeral to share her appreciation for the police force, part of which was read at the dedication.
“I’m proud that Leroy was a trooper and I’m so glad that he had those happy six years as one of such a wonderful group of men,” Margaret LeKites had written. “The men’s closeness and loyalty to one another is most remarkable.”
LeKites’ two sons, Wilson and LeRoy LeKites Jr., also attended the highway service on May 3.
Leroy “Roy” LeKites Jr. was around 7 years old when he lost his father. Now living in Selbyville, he uses Route 113 often.
“I really appreciate the memorial service,” said LeKites Jr. “[It was] real tasteful, I think.”
Lekites Jr.’s own grandchildren placed flowers at the base of the sign in last week’s service.
After a family friend and state employee approached the DSP about a memorial sign, the police worked on the idea for a long time but had a good partnership with Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) to erect the “long overdue” crash-site sign, said Capt. Sean Moriarty. LeKites has been recognized in other Delaware State Police memorials.
Although memorial signs have been put in place for more recent deaths, Moriarty said this dedication “got the ball rolling” on new signs for other, older fatalities in the line of duty.