Raymond V. Tennant, 86 , of Farmington was called home to God on Tuesday Jan 3, 2023 surrounded by his family to join his high school sweetheart and wife of 62 years Gail (Gray) Tennant. Born in Hartford, son of the late Vincent Raymond and Alice (Glynn) he grew up in the Dutch Point housing project in the South End. He was the third of four children, ( Patty, Beverly, Raymond, John) raised by their adoring mother. He graduated from St Peter’s school, where he along with his brother John spent many years as altar boys in the church. When his mom took on a second job at G Fox & CO, 11 year old Buddy and his dog Buster would meet his mom at the bus stop at 11:00 pm to walk her home for the next 10 years. He graduated from Buckley High School in 1955, and went on to proudly serve his country in the Army National Guard for three years. Mom and dad married in 1960 and spent the next 62 years together until her death in 2020.
More commonly known as either Bud or Buddy with his trademark cigar held captive in his jaw, he was the character so many police dramas tried to duplicate. When the Hartford Police officer doing his background check spoke to his best friend’s mother Mrs. O’Looney, she told the officer, ”He is a good kid. He doesn’t look for trouble, but he is not afraid of it either!” To which the officer replied to her, “That is exactly what we are looking for!” Raymond Vincent Tennant was sworn in as a Hartford Police officer in 1961. He worked in Patrol, Vice and Narcotics, Capital Region Crime Squad, Communications and Booking. He became a Sergeant in 1974. He served the City of Hartford for 30 years and respected and protected his brothers and sisters in blue every day.
As we grew older, we often asked him questions about his job… asked him to tell us stories about walking the midnight beat through the Charter Oak terrace without wearing a radio. During those early years, you walked between call boxes. When you got to one you picked it up to check in. If the blue light was lit on the box, it was a call coming to you for service. This is actually how he found out mom was in labor with their first child. The dispatcher told him a car was being sent to pick him up and take him to Hartford Hospital that his wife was in delivery.
This man remarkably never showed nervousness or fear ever. We would ask him what it was like policing the streets during the race riots of the 60’s. My mom’s sister Joyce was a teacher in the Hartford School system at the time. He told us that he made his way to Auntie Joyce to make sure she was safe. He would talk about how proud and nervous his own mother felt having both her sons ( officer John Tennant) serving the community they grew up in as police officers and veterans of the Army “ From Altar boys to cops and robbers and everything in between. I think she had a lot of sleepless nights” he would tell us. Believe me, she wasn’t the only one having a lot of sleepless nights. When you have a police officer that took an oath to protect and serve, your whole family has many sleepless nights. In fact, I believe it was for this reason that dad brought home our family’s very first dog. It was a young German Shepherd dog “CHIPS” that John Federco gave to dad from his impound lot to protect us.
In his time working for the HPD, he was ambushed on what was supposed to be a medical call and after a struggle with the perp, both went crashing through a second floor window into bushes below. While directing traffic around a fire, a woman caught his pants on her rusty car and dragged him, breaking his arm and leg. He responded to a jewelry store robbery where he wrestled a gun away from a Hells Angel. The owner of the store wanted dad to receive a commendation for his heroics. The response from the chief, “That is what we pay him to do.”
The owner of the jewelry store told my dad to pick out any watch he would like for my mother. We have that watch to this day. My dad was also the sergeant in charge of the Capitol Region Narcotics task force and we have a plaque of his service to DEA.
One of the best stories…… At 9 years old he was sledding with his brother and dad ran into a telephone pole. They went back home and told nobody. Dad just took a nap on the couch. Later on that night, they were supposed to go out somewhere, dad is not waking up. The truth surfaces and off they go to Hartford Hospital. Dad sustained a fractured skull and needs surgery.
Years and years later, dad pulls over a car for driving through a red light, license plate reads Shapiro. Walks up to the car and asks for license and registration. It turns out the driver was Dr. Shapiro, the neurosurgeon. Dad tells Dr. Shapiro that you operated on me when I was 9 years old and had a fractured skull. The Dr. jumps out of his car and looks at dad’s skull and said, “I did a good job!” Dad shakes his hand and sends him on his way.
Dad was a family guy. He loved playing with his kids, his nieces and nephews and later in life his granddaughters. You could find him playing catch in the yard, sliding down the hills, spectating at many sporting events. If you knew my dad, he was a man of few words. He was more on the quiet side, but when he said something it was very witty and entertaining.
I played catch with my dad every night after dinner in the front yard. Dad took me to buy my first baseball glove. I picked out a red, white and blue one. He used and still has his original baseball glove as a kid that looks like it belongs in the Hall of Fame. At the time in the 70’s, girls had to play on boy’s baseball teams, so I played little league with my brothers. One day the umpire did not show up for the game. My dad happened to be on the sideline. Not being able to find anyone else to do the job, dad agreed. So, being a smartass kid, during my plate appearance, I told dad I couldn’t see the plate, could he please brush it off. He did and then he proceeded to call me out on the next 3 pitches and asked me if I could see my way back to the bench!
The day his oldest son and namesake, Ray chose a career in law enforcement and became a New Hampshire State Trooper was one of the greatest highlights of his life. We were truly a blue blood family.
After spending 2 weeks every summer vacationing on the Cape with our family, in 1985 dad and mom bought a small cottage in Chatham, Ma. and named it Buddy’s Place. This cottage was a pride and joy. To this day it is our home away from home. He loved spending time with his family, his granddaughters and his extended family on the Cape making memories that will last a lifetime. My dad and mom also loved cruising with Auntie Mary and Uncle John. It took a little time to convince dad to go on the initial cruise. But in the end, only a few words had to be uttered. Uncle John and Auntie Mary invited you and mom to go on a cruise with you ( He adored John and Mary) and mom never asks for anything ( He would do anything for mom). The initial cruise was followed by 5 others with Auntie Mary and Uncle John and a trip to Las Vegas as well!!
For you to understand what it meant to be a policeman in those days is a little different than current times. Back in the day, they wore hard shoes for footwear. Those shoes had to be spit shined for work. Both my dad and my uncle had big shoe shine boxes. Out would come the black shoe paste, the brush and then the cloth, day in and day out for 30 years. The police uniform shirt would come out each night and get hung in the hallway on the coat closet hinge. Dad would proceed to put his sergeant pins on his collar. He would pin his badge on his shirt. He would put his cross pen and pencil set in his shirt pocket, a gift from his mother when he got the job. This happened each and every night before the next work day for 30 years. As an old school cop, he had a hard time seeing police officers these days doing private jobs with ear buds in their ears and iphones in their hands. In fact, just for you to understand how old school he was, any time he had to address an envelope for mailing, he got out his ruler to perfectly line it up like he was taught in his Catholic school education.
My father’s greatest joy in life was when his youngest son Jim, a PGA Golf Professional became the Head Golf Professional at age 23 at Westwoods Golf Course in our hometown. The same week that Jim got his job, my dad decided without mentioning it to anyone that it was time to retire. He went into work that day and retired during his shift. In fact, my uncle John was on duty at the time as well and was told by someone that your brother retired. His response was No, my brother is working right now. The reply, your brother is upstairs shaking the chief’s hand and is retiring. No cake. No party. No speeches. No announcement in the paper; just walked out the door after 30 years of service. From then, through the next 16 years, dad became Jim’s driving range manager. You could find him on any given day with his cigar in his mouth, his golden retriever Molly sitting by his side on the golf cart handing out, picking up or washing golf balls.
He loved each and every day of this job working side by side with Jim, but that is not to say he didn’t have his moments dealing with the public. One guy came up to dad to get some golf balls for the range. He told dad “I don’t want to buy a whole bucket of balls. I just want to buy a few balls.” My dad’s response,” Can you go into a grocery store and tell them you just want to buy a glass of milk?”
Dad loved sports. UCONN men’s and women’s basketball, Notre Dame football, the New York Yankees and the Cape Cod Baseball League. Famous for his lightning quick zingers, he had an Ivy League degree in street smarts and common sense. Throughout his life, he exemplified hard work, loyalty and integrity just like his heritage of County Tyrone outside Belfast. He leaves this life satisfied with a house in Farmington and a small cottage in Chatham. Not bad for a kid from the projects.
Buddy, who was predeceased by his beloved wife Gail, is survived by his family, Raymond (Charlotte), Amy, Jim (Stephanie), Lisa, Riley and Libby. He also leaves behind his sister in law Mary Tennant, his sister in law Joyce (Gray) Witik and many nieces and nephews.
Our family would like to thank our special friends Shawn and Dyanne for getting us set up with Hospice through Farmington Valley Visiting Nurse Association. Each and every person that we interacted with and who cared for our dad did so with care and compassion. These people are true angels. In lieu of flowers, Buddy may be remembered with contributions to FVNA 8 Old Mill Lane, Simsbury, CT 06070
A special heartfelt thank you to Dr. Deborah Keightley for her medical expertise, care and compassion of our beloved dad and mom over the years, especially during their ends of lives.
We would also like to thank Elizabeth, for providing both my mom and dad with not only the absolute best care, but always doing it with compassion, an upbeat personality, smiling face and sense of humor. To our friends, (Jeri Lynn, Nathalie, Gail, Melanie, Scott , Melissa and Camille and our cousins Tara and Andy, thank you for always making yourself available for whatever needed to be done.
Funeral services in celebration of Buddy’s life will be held on Tuesday, at 9 a.m. from Plainville Funeral Home, 81 Broad St, Plainville, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. at the Church of Saint Patrick, 110 Main St, Farmington. Committal services with military honors will follow at Rose Hill Memorial Park in Rocky Hill. Family and friends may gather on Monday evening, from 4-7 p.m. at the funeral home. To share fond memories and messages of sympathy, please visit Buddy’s tribute page at www.PlainvilleFuneralHome.com
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