by Bay City News
Several hundred mourners, including law enforcement personnel from across the Bay Area, packed into the Christ the King Church in Pleasant Hill this morning for the memorial service of former Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren E. Rupf.
Rupf, 69, died Aug. 9 after battling leukemia, more than a year after retiring from a two-decade stint as county sheriff. The Martinez resident's 45-year law enforcement career began when he joined the sheriff's office in 1965.
In addition to leading 1,000 employees by the time he retired as sheriff in January 2011, Rupf also established the Martinez-based organization Sheriff's Charities, Inc., which donates to youth and service groups.
Roughly 2,000 people attended today's memorial service, which included prayer and comments from some of Rupf's friends and former colleagues.
Each speaker recalled different memories of the sheriff, who was known for being an intelligent, physically imposing yet warm figure who was deeply committed to his family and career in law enforcement.
"His values, his energy and his wisdom in addressing statewide law enforcement issues drew him instant credibility from his peers," retired Undersheriff Ron Jarrell told mourners today. "He was a 'sheriff' in capital letters."
Retired Contra Costa District Attorney Gary Yancey, a longtime friend of Rupf's, highlighted the former sheriff's political prowess and dedication to law enforcement causes.
"Warren had what I would call political courage -- he would stand up at any public forum and declare his thoughts on the need for public safety, regardless of any impact it would have on his political career," Yancey said.
Others remembered Rupf's playful sense of humor and how the former U.S. Marine would tease colleagues who were fellow veterans about the Marines' superiority over other branches of the military.
A Marine Corps honor guard provided funeral honors for Rupf at today's service, which began around 10 a.m. after a casket draped with an American flag was carried up to the church altar.
The service concluded with a slideshow featuring photos of the 69-year-old throughout his life, and a brief video of an interview with the former sheriff.
In the video, Rupf, wearing his sheriff's uniform, spoke about his wife, their four children and eight grandchildren.
"My wife Carole makes a big contribution to who I am," he said in the video. "Every day I spend some moment of time reflecting on how blessed we are."
Memorial donations may be made to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund at 825 College Blvd., Ste. 102, PMB 609, Oceanside, CA 92057 or online at www.semperfifund.org/donate.