Paul M. Patrick was Atlantic Beach’s first Town Marshal. Born on November 8, 1887, in Savannah, Georgia, he enlisted at age 21 in the U.S. Army and served for three years. After his discharge, Patrick worked for the Chatham County Police Department in Georgia, and later, as a Savannah police detective. In 1920, he moved with his wife and four children to Jacksonville where he worked in the grocery business. In January 1932, the newly established Town of Atlantic Beach appointed him as Town Marshal. He also served as Town Marshal for Neptune Beach and Manhattan Beach. His duties included serving on the night watch. On the night of September 10, 1932, the original Atlantic Beach Town Hall, which stood near this location, caught fire. Patrick became trapped inside the building and suffered severe burns. He died two days later from the injuries he sustained in the fire. The fire destroyed the town hall, along with all city records. The building was not reconstructed, and the town offices were relocated. Records of the fire after his death are clear that Marshal Patrick died during the performance of his duties. In 2023, his name was added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington D.C.
Near 90 years passed without the City of Atlantic Beach aptly recognizing Marshal Patrick for his service and sacrifice. Nor had the City properly recognized the impact that this tragedy had on his family, including his widow, Jamie, and four young children.
Family members of Marshal Patrick recently reached out to the City, and on May 5, the City held a recognition ceremony and wreath-laying to honor the first and only Atlantic Beach law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty. It was a very moving day – as 17 of Marshal Patrick’s family, many from out of town – were on hand for the special and long-overdue occasion.
As Atlantic Beach Police Chaplain Percy Golden said, Marshal Patrick’s recognition was “delayed but not denied.”
It was the least we could do – and there's more. In addition to issuing a mayoral proclamation and garnering approval to place a historic marker at the former Town Hall site in Marshal Patrick’s honor, the City paid long-overdue homage to the fallen officer by having his name to be inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.
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