Honor Their Memories

Honor Their MemoriesDeath.

It’s part of life.

And for those of us fortunate enough remain healthy as we negotiate the “golden years,” there is a price to be paid: the pain and heartbreak of losing loved ones, partners, and friends.

This has been a difficult few days for me and many of my friends and former colleagues. In less than a week, we lost three wonderful men.

Join me as I honor their memories.

Neal “Dan” Gayhart

I worked with Dan at Firestone during the late eighties and early nineties. He was a sergeant assigned to the detective bureau, and in 1991 when I was promoted to detective, I was assigned to his team. The entire bureau was solid, packed with great men and women, but I particularly loved my team as we all worked well together, put a lot of bad men behind bars, and had a lot of laughs along the way. Dan was a gentleman, a genuinely nice guy who strived to get along with everyone. But he was also a great cop, and you didn’t want to mistake his kindness for weakness.

I’ll never forget coming in from the field with Scott Fines one day to have Dan announce that my wife had called. It was shortly after I had returned from my honeymoon, and the first time anyone had ever said those words to me. Of course, he knew Lesli, and he usually would have just said that “Lesli called,” but it seemed he got quite the charge out of addressing her as my wife, and it put a smile on my face. Then, of course, the usual bantering began, Scotty leading the charge.

Years later, Dan and I were reunited at Homicide Bureau. We each retired in 2004, but I was fortunate to see him a few times over the years at various functions, including the funerals of other colleagues.

I was honored to call him a friend. May he Rest In Peace.

Tony Argott

Tony was a sergeant at Men’s Central Jail when I was assigned there as a new deputy, straight out of the academy. He was one of the great ones, a man with the respect of his subordinates, peers, and supervisors alike, a guy who always had a smile on his face and usually something witty to say that brought laughs from all. A few years later when I was working patrol at Firestone station, Tony transferred in as a lieutenant, and we worked together there for several more years.

I was fortunate to see Tony often at Firestone reunions, and on one such occasion, I learned that we shared a love of writing. He had written two novels under the pseudonym Tony Levario, each set in East Los Angeles where Tony had spent much of his career.

Tony was a great cop, a mentor, and someone who will be heartily missed by all who knew him. He battled cancer for the last several years, and fought to hang on for his loved ones. Nothing meant more to him than time spent with his family, especially his grandkids.

May he Rest In Peace.

Tommy Harris

Everyone knew Tommy, and most of us who did, loved him. He was a legend on the department, known as a great cop, a tremendous athlete, and one of the most fun-loving people with whom I’d ever worked. I had the great honor to work with Tommy at Homicide for a number of years.

If you’ve read my memoir, Nothing Left to Prove, you might remember that Tommy was my partner at Homicide when I ruptured a disc in my neck during a fight. While working a murder case, we encountered a “parolee at large” and were asked by his parole officer to bring him in. When we went to arrest the parolee, let’s just say he had a completely different agenda than our own. It was a fairly easy fight, two against one and having Tommy on my side, but I still managed to get myself hurt in the process.

Tommy and I remained friends over the years, occasionally speaking by phone, often seeing one another at reunions and other events. The last times we spoke, just two months ago, he told me he was having “Dickie Floyd” withdrawals and asked when I’d have another book out. I confirmed that he had read The Program, the seventh in the series, and he had. In fact, he was elated that Amazon had screwed up his order and sent him three of them, so he gave two away to friends.

And yes, Tommy was a character in the series starter, A Good Bunch of Men. The funny thing is, anyone who knew him (and read the book) correctly guessed that it was he upon whom I based the character, Tommy Foster.

Tommy suffered a massive stroke and passed a few days later. Rest In Peace, my brother; you are loved and will be missed by many.

May they Rest In Peace

I’ve added the names to my tribute page to honor their memory, and I couldn’t help but notice that the list is growing too large too quickly. But each time I read through that post, I’m left with reflections of truly great men and women with whom I was honored to serve.

May God rest their souls and comfort their loved ones.

* * *

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you will share it with your family and friends.


38 thoughts on “Honor Their Memories

  1. Danny,
    The tributes you wrote make me feel as though, damn, I having a hard time saying what Mike Black and others conveyed so well. All three men are brothers I loved but never met. Thanks.

  2. Damn, Danny, I’m sorry to hear this. I know the feeling you described. It hits you like a gut-punch out of nowhere. My words are dust, but my spirit is with yours. Stay strong, brother.

      1. So sorry for your losses Danny. Unfortunately my family experienced a tragic loss of our son-in-law who was a motorcycle officer for Arlington Texas PD,to a hit and run on September 21 st of this year.
        I just finished your book Nothing else to prove and so wished that everyone would read it so that they could realize exactly what our law enforcement actually faces on a day to day basis. Loved the book!!

        1. Bob, I’m very sorry for your family’s loss, and appreciative of your son-in-law’s service and sacrifice. Thank you!

          I also want to say thanks for the feedback on my memoir. It means a lot.

          God bless!


  3. These are the men that are the foundation of our great Department. Thanks for your insight and kind words. They will be missed.

  4. Danny,
    Thank you for your heartfelt tribute to your friends and colleagues. The link to your blog was shared with me by a very dear friend who happens to have served with each of them.
    Based on the stories you shared, I feel in some small way that I actually knew them…or at least that they were dedicated cops and wonderful human beings, each of whom left their own unique and indelible mark on the world. May God bless the souls of Dan, Tony, and Tommy, and may they forever rest in His peace. 🕊️🕊️🕊️
    “And He will raise you up on eagles’ wings
    Bear you on the breath of dawn
    Make you to shine like the sun
    And hold you in the pallm of His hand.”

  5. So incredibly sorry for the recent loss of very good friends. Time passes like water in a raging river sadly. Your kind eulogies demonstrate how each of your friends created a better world, and their memories are a treasured and humble reminder of how life is meant to be cherished in the moment. Sending prayers and comforting thoughts in this difficult time, and may your friends be in the Peace and Comfort of Heaven.🙏

  6. These three in one week? The Lord must need some solid men for a very important call-out up yonder. That’s all I can figure. Sorry brother.

  7. Dear Danny Smith.,
    For some reason, I am happy your friends did not die, “in the line of duty.”
    All three men gave so many years to their departments and cities. Their families were fortunate compared to those who die young.
    I’m very sorry you lost life time colleagues and friends. As I age also, it becomes sad to have less life long friends in our lives.
    May God bless you to have happy years regardless and not fear what we can’t control.
    Cathy from Michigan

  8. Sgt. Tommy Harris was my supervisor at Temple Station when I was assigned there. My Partner and I Tom Shannon had such respect and admiration for him as a Supervisor, athlete, and as a genuine great person. I appreciate the respect Sgt Harris had for me, because of his comments to me as to my performances, and eventually assigning my partner and I to a Task force he was ramrodding when Temple had some major crime issues. Tom was well respected amongst all personnel at Temple Station at the time he was assigned, but I will always remember the off duty fun we had at the Go Kart track in Pomona after EM shift!

  9. All three good men that I was fortunate to work around. Tony and I shared several assignments and was my choice for the Compton merger and later as the Captain at IRC when I was a Chief. Going to miss them dearly.

  10. It is hard to lose a family,friend any time. I can understand your feelings, but remember They are in a wonderful place now. In the future you could be united with them, keep your faith and trust and be safe.

  11. It’s the hardest thing in this life to say goodbye to dear friends and family but hopefully your memories will keep them alive with you….RIP gentlemen.

  12. Sorry for loss sir. My wife works return to work unit and every Monday she dreads going in because there was either a death or serious injury. She’s way stronger than I am. She was a Deputy for 10 years and about to celebrate her 23td year. Keep the memories alive and remember your brothers in your writing. Until next time…keep that head on a swivel.

  13. Our friends my friend.
    Miss you and share your pain and tears.

    Tommy was my DI.
    Tony was my adversary.
    Dan was my boss in DB at FPK

    Blessed are the Peacekeepers

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