Widow & Transplant Recipient Honor Fallen OKC Police Recruit - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |


Widow & Transplant Recipient Honor Fallen OKC Police Recruit

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Widow and transplant recipient honor fallen police recruit Widow and transplant recipient honor fallen police recruit

Several law enforcement officers from around the state were honored for paying the ultimate price on Friday at the Department of Public Safety headquarters.

One of them, Kelley Chase, was an Oklahoma City Police Cadet just weeks away from graduating. He died during a training accident in 2012.

10/14/2012 Related Story: Authorities Identify OKC Police Recruit Who Died At Training Academy

But he managed to save a life even after his death by being an organ donor.

And Friday, as Kelley's widow Elke walked to honor her husband, she had a special person by her side - the man who had received Kelley's heart – Ralph Howell.

“I met him here, last year,” said Elke Meeus, Kelley Chase's widow. “It was a surprise! We had exchanged one letter each. And just coming face to face with the person who received Kelley's heart is wonderful.”

Ralph has now become a special part of Elke's life and her family.

“Our families have become one family,” said Meeus. “My kids call Ralph ‘grandpa Ralph.'”

“We just enjoy spending time together,” said Howell. “We are usually together once a month, sometimes a couple of times a month.”

And Ralph wanted to be sure he was by Elke's side Friday during the memorial tribute, so he too could honor the man who he said saved his life. Elke said having him there was like having Kelley there with her too.

“Kelley lives on in our hearts, but also in a real live body,” said Meeus.

Kelley Chase will also be honored for the very first time at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service in Washington D.C. next week. The Oklahoma City's Fraternal Order of Police Chapter 123 is helping his family be there by paying to fly both Elke and their two kids to the ceremony.

“What an honor it is to be here and to see that Kelley is not forgotten,” said Meeus. “That's the last thing I would want, for him to be forgotten. He was a good man.”

Elke is originally from Belgium and just became a United States citizen this year.

“I was sadly denied two years ago, because Kelley had died three weeks before my final interview,” Said Meeus. “I became a citizen on the 31st of March.”

She said this entire experience has inspired her to pursue a career in law.

She plans to attend Oklahoma City University School of Law in the fall.

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