Residents of Contra Costa County in California learned this week of the sad passing of a giant in public service – retired Sheriff Warren Rupf. He was only 69 and had been diagnosed with myeloid leukemia just six weeks ago.
I got to know Warren four years ago during my campaign for state assembly.
His stature – at 6’7” made him a foot and a half taller than yours truly. I remember once when he introduced me at an event in Blackhawk then walked down three stairs so I would look a little taller. Warren was that kind of man. He always found a way to make you laugh and feel a bit taller – always a gentleman and a friend.
Warren was rare as a public servant. He always gave it to us straight. Most people who knew him never thought of him as a politician. He was larger than that – Reaganesque in a way.
His career started with a stint in the press room at the Contra Costa Times though service was in his blood. He joined the U.S. Marines and after his military service, focused on law enforcement. He began at the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office in 1965 and ascended to the role of Sheriff – a role he was appointed to when then-Sheriff Dick Rainey was elected to the State Assembly. He was so beloved in our home county that he never faced a major election challenge. Rupf was a favorite of California Governors, even heading the California State Sheriff’s Association.
Sheriff Rupf was kind, thoughtful, and extremely devoted to family. He loved his community and cherished the role of protecting people and doing what was right. We felt safer with him at the helm. We trusted his judgment and loved it when he visited our community.
Sheriff Rupf sent an email to friends on July 5th when he learned he had leukemia:
“Shipmates and others with whom I have shared so much,
I choose an e-mail to share what follows to reduce the likelihood that the message gets caught up in politics or locker room editing (also an opportunity to respond to the charges that Marines cannot read or write.)
Should you choose to offer any response, it also offers an easy to schedule means. I love you all but I am not excited by the idea of putting you (or me) on a path filled with sympathy cards and grown-man tears.
While some tests are still being evaluated and treatment options explored, both are rather grim. I have acute myeloid leukemia.
While rather morbid, this may be the only good news. When you buy this brand, you move rather quickly from check-in to checkout. I hate long, slow-moving lines.
Some will say that I should have retired earlier and enjoyed the good life. I say: Poppycock, my life could not have been any better.
Be it Marine Corps, Office of the Sheriff, going toe-to-toe with a real labor leader or a beer at the slop chute with an old-school reporter, you made my list of those whom made my life one of few regrets.
I know that there are good men with whom I have lost electronic contact please consider sharing this with them as your paths cross and offer them my regards.
Semper Fidelis, Warren
Contra Costa and all of California is a lesser place today without Warren Rupf. Rest in peace knowing a grateful public shall miss you and remember you with warmth, respect and love.