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Date of Issue: June 14, 2007

Remember our very own 'Superman,' Pete Lannon

Officer Pete Lannon's family and friends celebrated his life with a funeral Mass at Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Church and burial at his final resting place, Manasota Memorial Park - as chronicled in photos by Gene Page III and Kelsie Moore.

Hundreds of folks turned out Tuesday and Wednesday, June 5-6, to say farewell to Holmes Beach Police Officer Pete Lannon and wish his family well as they venture forth in the wake of his death.

Lannon, who served as the community resource officer for Anna Maria Elementary School, spent the past year battling pancreatic and liver cancer. The 49-year-old father of three passed away in the early morning hours of June 1.

An open casket viewing was held Tuesday, June 5, at Brown & Sons Funeral Home in Bradenton, at which time students of Pete were encouraged to sign his casket.

 A funeral Mass and celebration of life was led by the Rev. Gordon Zanetti the following afternoon at Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Catholic Church. Before the service, a lone bagpiper played outside the church, and all during the service, a rotating team of police officers and deputies from Holmes Beach, Manatee County and other Florida departments stood as the honor guard at Pete’s side.

Don Lannon, Pete’s older brother, delivered the eulogy both for himself and for Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine, who said he struggled just to write the words and couldn’t speak.

Both shared fond memories of Lannon’s ability to laugh - to "crack himself up" - and bring laughter to just about any situation, or more often than not, to laugh over nothing at all.

Don related a story about how his brother had always been one to look out for kids. For example, one Christmas Eve, he and Pete were on their way to a family gathering when they passed by three or four boys beating up another boy.

Pete told his brother to pull the car over and then quickly jumped out of the vehicle, running toward the boys while yelling, "I’m still watching!" The kids took one look at him and ran off, including the victim. Pete just happened to be wearing a Santa Claus suit at the time.

But one suit Lannon wore as an admiring child and could have worn for life was that of his superhero, Superman, as he lived his life believing in truth and justice for all.

Don recalled his younger brother wearing a Superman "suit" as young as age 6, and that their parents had to eventually remove the cape for fear little Pete would test its flying abilities.

"If I were to mention Peter Lannon’s name with the likes of Kirk Alyn, George Reeves and Christopher Reeve, would you know what these men have in common?" wrote Romine. "They are all remembered by a crowd of friends, fans and family for being Superman, our hero. The kind of hero that lived his life out as the mild-mannered Clark Kent (maybe in Peter’s case, not so mild mannered), ever mindful of the needs of others and always looking for the opportunity to help someone and make the world a better place."

Romine, who was out of town when Lannon was interviewed for his job at the HBPD, also stated that he wished he "could take the credit for having the foresight of hiring Peter Lannon to serve as a police officer for the city of Holmes Beach. If I could, I would consider it to be one of the greatest accomplishments of my career. Peter was not only a police chief’s model employee, I am proud to say that he was my friend."

Following the service at Ss. Peter and Paul, friends and family gathered at Manasota Memorial Park in Bradenton - driving under a huge American flag suspended from the tops of two fire truck ladders at the entrance to the burial grounds. A brief graveside service was held and Romine presented Lannon’s wife, Debbie, with the flag that had draped the casket. The service ended with a 21-gun salute.

Debbie said the service was what her husband wanted, that they discussed the details - such as the Superman decals on the casket - and that he helped chose the photos that were displayed at the viewing and reception.

Lannon is survived by wife Debra; daughter Jessica; sons Matthew and Peter Jr. (affectionately known as "Re-Pete") and his wife, Christy; sisters Frances Mazzei of West Warwick, R.I., and Mary Law of Coventry, R.I.; and brothers Donald, Michael and Edward, all of Warwick, R.I.

Memorial donations may be made to the Pete Lannon Memorial Fund in care of any Wachovia Bank with a notation for account number 31862147.