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