The sight of Lesli Lord's children in a funeral procession yesterday was wrenching.
Down the long center aisle of Immaculata Church, two boys escorted their mother's flag-draped casket, the elder son stoic, the younger grimacing. Her daughter followed, trembling and clinging to her father.
Lord, one of the San Diego Police Department's five highest-ranking women, was remembered by more than 1,300 family members, friends and colleagues, some of whom had arrived on the University of San Diego campus in a 100-car motorcade of law enforcement vehicles stretching several miles from Qualcomm Stadium.
The ceremonies came exactly one week after the 45-year-old police captain, wife and mother fatally shot herself in the barn of the Jamul house she shared with her husband and children.
Friends said Lord was in despair over marital problems combined with the demands of her prestigious job as leader of the Regional Community Policing Institute. Lord, they said, was a brilliant overachiever who felt she was losing control.
The 20-year veteran was afforded a hero's funeral.
Pallbearer's included Lord's sons and the department's assistant police chiefs. The pews were filled with City Council members, community leaders, and hundreds of officers in dark blue uniforms.
In his eulogy, police Chief Jerry Sanders called Lord a "truly remarkable, multitalented woman" for whom "no challenge was too difficult." He mentioned many of Lord's accomplishments, noting that the woman known as a gifted teacher, dynamic speaker and role model had probably trained 90 percent of the department's officers.
In an interview after the 40-minute service, Sanders urged Lord's children to take stock of how much their mother did for the Police Department and the community. "I think they need to be really proud of her," the chief said.
The Rev. Henry Rodriguez, who spoke before Sanders, reminded the gathering that God's love endures "in our confusion, in our anger, in our inability to understand."
He added: "As the angels carry her, they also carry us."
San Diego Union-Tribune, The (CA) - August 31, 1998
Deceased Name: Lesli Lord, 45 blazed trail in city's police department
Lesli Lord lived a life with high expectations for herself. She was a trailblazer, a role model, a feminist, a wife and a mother.
She was the San Diego Police Department's most senior captain and one of its five highest-ranking women.
Capt. Lord died Tuesday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. She was 45.
She joined the department in September 1978, at a time when not many women became police officers. From the first, she was a high achiever, graduating from the 91st police academy in February 1979 at the top of her class in academics.
She lived by the code that if you don't like the way things are, it's up to you to change them. That set the course for her life.
The first hurdle for her was getting hired as a police officer. She had a master's degree then, later earning a doctoral degree in leadership and human behavior from U.S. International University in 1983. Two decades ago, though, she was told she was too educated to be a beat cop.
Capt. Lord prevailed and spent her first four years on the force patrolling Logan Heights and other areas of the city.
Her promotions to sergeant, lieutenant and captain coincided with the births of her three children, now 13, 11 and 7.
Capt. Lord was the first woman to command the San Diego Police S.W.A.T. unit and served in numerous specialized assignments, including the vice unit and Internal Affairs. She commanded both the Northern and Southeastern Division substations.
"She always wanted to challenge herself to go a little bit further," her husband said.
She received one of her many Commanding Officer Citations for her work as a field leader during the Republican National Convention here in 1996. Seven years earlier, she was honored for her work during Operation Rescue demonstrations, when abortion foes blocked access to health-care clinics.
Since 1997, Capt. Lord headed the Regional Community Policing Institute, a federally funded effort to train Southern California law enforcement agencies in problem-oriented policing. She taught classes at San Diego State University on traffic law and enforcement, stress management and diversity. She had received special training at the FBI National Academy and the U.S. Secret Service Dignitary Protection Institute. She had been published in the Journal of Police Science and Administration and The Encyclopedia of Police Science.
Capt. Lord was a founding member of the San Diego County Domestic Violence Task Force, served as a board member at the Mission Valley YMCA and as an adviser to "AnyTown 1996," a program that teaches youths about racial tolerance. In 1991, she was honored by the YMCA and in 1996 earned a "San Diego Women Who Mean Business" award.
Her office was decorated with pictures of herself as a SWAT commander next to crayon drawings by her children, photos of her two horses, and family vacation snapshots.
"She wanted to be the kind of woman professionally and personally that her kids looked up to," said Victoria Gilner, assistant to the chief of police.
The two women shared an interest in Celtic music and found much in common as they prevailed in male-dominated careers.
Capt. Lord loved animals, sharing her Jamul home with a menagerie of birds. She owned two horses, and was proud of her daughter's riding ability. Another passion was her rose garden.
Capt. Lord is survived by her husband and three children.