Middleboro dedicates memorial to late Lieutenant AJ Lapanna

Apr 13, 2024

MIDDLEBORO — In light of the mark that former Middleboro Police Lt. AJ Lapanna left on the town he served and grew up in, Middleboro has installed a bench in his memory. 

Lapanna passed away on Oct. 1, 2023, after a two-year battle with stage 4 metastatic head and neck cancer.

He started as a patrol officer in Middleboro in 2001. In August of 2023, he was promoted to lieutenant.

The monument was revealed to the town on Opening Day of Middleboro’s Little League Baseball. Lapanna was a Little League coach, and coached his son Peyton Lapanna, 16, when he was younger, said his wife Traci Lapanna.

The metal bench was constructed by Nemasket Craft, a company that specializes in metalwork, and was installed next to the Field of Dreams baseball diamond.

Sgts. Simone Ryder and Scott Philips, both friends of Lapanna in the Middleboro Police Department, removed a tarp covering the memorial to reveal it to the crowd. 

Lappana’s wife Traci said she was “speechless” standing in front of the ode to her husband.

She had put forth the idea to have the following quote etched into the bench: “Please don’t be mad at me if God calls me home. I want nothing more than to love you and our family. Please find and seek God’s peace and love daily. It is there where you will find me.”

Those words, she said, “were from a text he sent me when he was in the hospital.”

Prior to AJ’s police service, he served in the military for 23 years, during which he became a Green Beret, went on combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and received numerous military medals. 

His mother, Patricia Lapanna, said of her son: “He accomplished so much in such a short time.” Lapanna passed away at 48 years old. 

Teresa Farley, who has recently been elected to the Middleboro Select Board, organized the event. Farley, who met AJ more than 20 years ago, said she thought “something should be done that is lasting” in honor of “someone who had dedicated his life to service.” 

Farley said she had raised enough money through donations to cover the cost of the memorial “within hours” of posting an announcement on Facebook. The money came in, she said, “literally so fast that I couldn’t keep up with the donations.”