The letter is printed verbatim, with only slight edits to accommodate newspaper style, on Page 16. It is accompanied by an editorial dedicated to Officer Maples, his family, the letter of appreciation and to Cleveland 100, a 16-year-old organization that has come to the aid of the patrolman’s family.
The municipal police officer died May 20, in a single-vehicle accident on South Lee Highway after losing control of his patrol car while en route to assist a Bradley County Sheriff’s Office patrolman who was responding to a reported automobile theft.
Co-founded in 1996 by Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and the late Courtney McGrady, a former law enforcement professional who later turned his talents to area development, Cleveland 100 provides assistance to the families of emergency services personnel who have died while in the line of duty.
Earlier this week at a board meeting, Cleveland 100 President Brenda Lawson pointed to the community’s support of the Maples family, and the ongoing commitment by the local organization to assist the loved ones of fallen emergency service workers — the latest of which has been working with the police officer’s widow and three young children, each of whom is under the age 5.
“I was never prouder of my hometown and our Cleveland 100 organization than I was this past month during the tragic loss of an officer,” Lawson said. “This is something we hope never happens, but when it does, it’s good to know we have the ability to help the family in any way possible.”
Within the same week of the Cleveland 100 gathering, the parents of Officer Maples (Barry and Charlene Maples) and his sister (Brittney Maples Gobble) publicly thanked the community for its pivotal role in supporting the family and in honoring their loved one throughout the past few weeks since the officer’s death.
“We have been humbled and our hearts deeply touched by the overwhelming expressions of love, support and generosity that have been demonstrated by you following the death of our son and brother, police officer Justin Maples,” the family letter states. “Words can never express the depth of gratitude we have for what this great community has done for our family.”
Written by Barry Maples on behalf of the family, the letter adds, “We would like to thank each of you personally; however, we would no doubt unintentionally leave someone out. So we want to take this opportunity to thank all of you so very much for all you did for Justin while he was with us, shortly after his death, at his funeral and to his final resting place, and what continues to be done. These events have been burned into our hearts and their memory will last forever. We will treasure them always.”
Barry and Charlene Maples returned to Cleveland from Missouri 36 years ago to start their family. Cleveland is Barry Maples’ hometown.
“When our children grew up, we were so pleased when they chose to stay in Cleveland to start their careers and eventually raise their children,” the letter points out. “We have always known what a great community Cleveland is, but it became even more evident after the tragic death of our son.”
The full letter is published inside today’s edition of the Banner.