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Final Salute for Boston Police Department Pioneer

The Boston Herald

When James Creed was a little boy he would watch his mother get dressed for work - pinning a shiny silver Boston police shield near her heart and fastening a gunbelt around her svelte waist - and feel a rush of pride.

Florastine ``Flo'' Creed-Jacobson had that effect on many people, and not just the ones who knew her personally or loved her as much as her son did.

Women were proud of her because she was a pioneer, one of the first female police officers to make it through the Boston Police Academy in 1979, when the blue blood of the department was primarily testosterone-fueled.

Cops were proud of her because of the dignity she brought to the BPD; the honor and fairness, even during her stint as a commander in the Internal Affairs Division and more recently as the superintendent overseeing the office of Labor Relations - two of the toughest jobs in the department.

``Even when I was young, I knew my mother was different, working in a male-dominated world. My friends would see her in her uniform and say to me, `Your mom is something else,' and I would say, `Yeeeaaaah, she is,' '' James Creed, now 38 and a Boston firefighter working in Beacon Hill's Engine 4, remembered last week. ``Right now, I have this selfish feeling that I wanted her to be here forever.''

Creed-Jacobson took her last breaths at her Mattapan home on Wednesday, at age 59. She will be remembered this morning at an 11 a.m. funeral service in the historic Charles Street AME Church in Roxbury.

The respected BPD superintendent was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in July 2003, just weeks after she and her husband, Alan Jacobson, returned from their honeymoon.

The couple had been together for 13 years before they married. That night in 1990 when Jacobson first laid eyes on his future wife is emblazoned in his memory.

He did not just see the striking woman standing just outside the lounge area at the Holiday Inn in Dedham. He FELT her. She was captivating, Jacobson remembered.

``I saw the way she held herself,'' Jacobson said. ``It wasn't just her looks, it was her personality, her voice. It all resonated integrity, compassion. Sometimes you pick up those things from someone in a very brief time.''

Jacobson's gut was right that night. By then, Flo Creed had a reputation throughout the BPD for those very traits.

``Flo was a special woman. She was fair, and had a lot of grace,'' said Boston Police Patrolmens Association President Tom Nee. ``A lot of people on this job looked up to her.''

Creed-Jacobson faced her terrible disease with the same unfailing determination she used to get through years of night school to earn her law degree, battling the cancer with the same type of single-mindedness that helped her pass the bar exam on her first try in 1990.

Refusing to be beaten down, she continued to work at One Schroeder Plaza until last month, a source of inspiration for both of her families - her fellow cops and her relatives - until the very end.

``Flo not only exuded integrity and professionalism, but she was truly one of the nicest people I've ever met,'' Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole said.

On the day Creed-Jacobson became the BPD's first black female deputy superintendent in 1994, her own mother's words were what came to her mind. Creed-Jacobsen told a Herald reporter: ``The only thing that beats failure is a try.''

That same sentiment was passed onto James Creed by his mother, and will likely be repeated to his own son, Troy.

``Everything for her seemed so easy,'' James Creed said. ``But I know it wasn't easy. My mother had a way of making things happen. I will miss her.''
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