LAKES OF THE FOUR SEASONS | When hundreds of mourners paid their last respects recently to Gary Police Officer Jeffrey Westerfield at the Genesis Center, a hand-crafted portrait of the fallen officer stood in the midst of his memorial display.
That portrait was the work of Lakes of the Four Seasons resident Anne Jones, founder and principal artist for Face to Face Fine Art Commemorative Expressions, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help ease suffering and aid in the grieving process for families who have experienced a sudden unexpected or tragic loss of a loved one.
Face to Face is funded through donations and Jones uses photos provided by the bereaved.
“We help them to select the best photo to capture the likeness and spirit of each subject,” Jones said. “Portraits are created in soft pastels (chalk) and are then framed under glass and presented to the client so they have a lasting memorial to commemorate the life of their loved one.”
Jones has created portraits for all three Indiana law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty during the past few weeks: Officer Jake Calvin from Tipton, Officer Perry Renn from Indianapolis and Westerfield.
“Presenting these portraits can be a very emotional experience for myself and any board members who attend, as well as for the recipients,” Jones said.
Retired Gary Police Officer Joe Hamer, a civilian employee of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, is chairman of the Indiana FOP Critical incident Memorial Team which assists law enforcement agencies as the liaison between the family and funeral home, making all plans and ensuring full military honors for each officer.
Hamer describes Face to Face as “an amazing program.” He said the officers’ families have been pleased and overwhelmed by her recent portraits.
“What she is doing for these families is giving them a lasting tribute to remember these officers who have been killed in the line of duty,” Hamer said. “She has a passion for this. We are thankful and grateful that she sought us out.”
Jones is no stranger to the pain of the loss of a loved one.
“In the spring of 2012 I had three significant losses in my own life within 60 days,” Jones said.
Her sister, who died of a brain tumor, her 86-year-old mother and her husband of 32 years, who died suddenly on the morning of their son’s wedding.
In October of 2012 Jones, who has been a portrait artist for more than 40 years, brought together a board of directors and began the process of starting a nonprofit 501 C3.
“I wanted to do something to help others who had been through the kind of sudden loss that I had,” Jones said.
Her recent portraits also include murder victim Brandon Huseman; popular Hobart teacher Linda Darlington, who was struck and killed by a car; and the two Evans’ sisters, Kristen and Jennifer, who were murdered in Griffith.
“We presented a portrait May 20 of Corrections Officer Britney Meux,” Jones said. “We just presented Molly Winters from Muncie with a portrait of her husband, Officer Gregg Winters, who was shot and killed over 20 years ago. Molly has worked with both state and national crisis response teams for families of fallen officers.”
Jones said the presentation of the Darlington portrait was especially tough.
“First we presented it to the family at a luncheon in honor of Linda’s 43rd birthday,” Jones said.
“From there we went to the elementary school in Hobart where Linda Darlington taught first grade. The entire school was present for an assembly where we presented the portrait and the children honored their teacher and friend with songs, poems and artwork. A memorial Learning Garden will be established at the school for Mrs. Darlington.”
For further information on Face to Face or to make a donation, call (219) 688-6905 or visit the website www.facetofacefineart.org, or their Facebook page.