The night of February 2, 1979, tested the entire fire department to the fullest. When the first engine pulled up to the “Old Armory” apartment building, flames were coming out of several windows. At least 22 of the apartments were occupied and it seemed as if no one was outside yet. Crews evacuated people from the first floor and raised several ladders to rescue people from the other two floors. Two tenants even climbed down the inside of a ladder from a third floor apartment to escape the heat and smoke. A cry for help led Firefighter Leonard Rouse to the back of the apartment building where he got a boost up to the fire escape to look for a man who was reported to be still inside. Firefighter Rouse entered a broken window on the second floor and climbed through the heat and blinding smoke to make a search of the apartment. He found the unconscious man and began to bring him over to the window. Before Firefighter Rouse was able to complete his rescue, his mask ran out of air and he had to leave. After Firefighter Rouse left, Firefighter Mike Johnson entered through the same window and with great effort was able to get the man outside to awaiting help. Richard Senn was taken to the hospital and recovered from his burns and smoke inhalation.
Officer Beaton was 48 years old when he interrupted a Sunday morning burglary, July 27, 1919. He was on foot patrol when he heard an explosion inside the Kinney Meat Market. When he walked to the rear of the market, he was shot by a “lookout” at the rear door. It is believed that it was 4 or 5 burglars who had broken into the building and blew the store’s safe with nitroglycerin.
This still unsolved murder left his wife Mary with two sons, Ronald (age 4) and Vincent (age 2). For several weeks after the murder, Vincent was heard crying out for his “Papa.” Vincent’s “Papa” was known for his kindness and generosity, not just to his family and friends, but to everyone he came in contact with.
A fitting memorial was the dream of Officer Beaton’s son Vincent. In 1993, as a result of his lifetime dedication to the father that was taken from him as a child, a granite memorial was dedicated in Superior’s City Hall to honor all of Superior’s police officers that have been killed in the line of duty. Vincent had vowed never to rest until such a memorial recognized the commitment of his father. Just a short year later, Vincent joined his “Papa.”
A great concern of Vincent’s was that an officer should not have to die to be recognized for their work and that an appropriate place be set aside to honor those that are the most deserving.
In 1998 the State Fire and Police Hall of Fame opened within the Old Firehouse and Police Museum in the City of Superior to do just that. Officer Finlay Beaton was the first inductee of the Hall of Fame. This Hall of Fame is a tribute to that two-year old boy who loved his “Papa.”