STAMFORD — Members of the Stamford Police Department and family members this week honored David Troy and George Kelly, city police officers who died in the line of duty many years ago.

Wreath laying ceremonies have traditionally been held every five years for Stamford officers killed on duty. But this year the police union decided it will hold commemorations annually, which meant this week would be a busy one.

Troy and Kelly died 22 years apart — minus one day.

The first ceremony this week took place at Officer David Troy Field in Cove Island Park. Troy’s two daughters, Diane Troy and Doreen Dolan, were on hand to help honor their father, who died July 7, 1960.

The following day, police, including Chief Tim Shaw and Assistant Chief Tom Wuenneman, laid a wreath at the grave of Kelly, who died July 8, 1938.

Diane Troy, 63, who was three when her father was killed, said it was comforting to have the city commemorate the day on which she lost her father.

“Whenever another family member is with me at this ceremony it gives us a sense of comfort and appreciation,” said Troy, who lives in Norwalk. “The community and police department have always been very supportive and they have honored my father’s memory and we appreciate that.”

Her sister, Doreen Dolan, 64, who lives in Rhode Island, said she likes to attend the ceremonies for her father to put a face on the tragedy.

“A lot of people don’t realize that when they go out, police officers risk their lives and we are a testimonial to that,” she said. “This is something that can happen and we like to put a family face to it to show police are human too, and that is a very important thing to remember.”

Troy was killed while responding to an armed robbery at Skipper’s Bar on Main Street, according to according to Capt. Thomas Lombardo, the department’s historian.

Four minutes after police were notified of the robbery, an employee of Star Confectionery reported a police officer had been shot in the area that is now occupied by the Stamford Town Center.

Lombardo, who has participated in all the wreath laying ceremonies since 1983, said Troy was shot by the gunman and though severely wounded, fired back, striking the robber, Joseph DeSalvo, in the leg.

Troy took cover under a truck where he was located by his partner, Officer Kanel, who had covered the front of the building where the suspect had been seen. Kanel and another officer rushed Troy to Stamford Hospital.

Troy was speaking on the way to hospital, but was unconscious when he arrived there and soon was pronounced dead. In addition to wounds in both legs, the fatal shot was to his chest.

Troy was 27 when he died, and had been with the department for two years. In addition to his daughters, he left a wife, Rose, and son David Jr., who was six months old.

DeSalvo had been paroled from Illinois State Prison less than two months before the robbery and was working as a lab technician at Norwalk Hospital.

Lombardo said only 15 of the 185 members who served in the police department with Troy are still alive.

George Kelly was 39 year old and in the department for 13 years when he died 22 years earlier. He left behind a wife, son and eight siblings, in addition to his parents, according to the website Officer Down Memorial Page.

On Wednesday, police laid a wreath at Kelley’s grave inside St. John’s Cemetery on Camp Avenue.

Kelly was killed in a motorcycle accident. While working the midnight shift, he skidded while on Jefferson Street and collided with a bread truck. His was the second death of a Stamford officer that year. Officer Andrew Schletchweg died as a result of another motorcycle accident on May 26.

Police this year will also honor William McNamara, who was killed during a shootout in December 1973.

“I’ve just been the designee from the police association and we feel it is important to honor those who have died in the line of duty,” Lombardo said.

Police union President Kris Engstrand said the switch to yearly ceremonies came as a suggestion from officer Jessica Bloomberg.

“We never want to forget the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. They deserve at minimum a yearly recognition, not one every five years,” he said.

jnickerson@stamfordadvocate.com