About 400 people, including several dozen uniformed law enforcement officers, gathered Monday at a memorial service to mourn former Orange County Sheriff James Andrew Musick, who died last week at 82.
"To speak of Jim was to speak of integrity, duty, honor, fairness (and) modesty," Orange County Sheriff Brad Gates said of his predecessor, who was the county's chief law enforcement officer for 28 years, longer than anyone else in history.
Earlier, a 21-gun salute and full military honors accompanied the private burial at Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana. At the 11 a.m. memorial service in Calvary Chapel, a slide show depicting Musick's career--from football hero to law enforcement leader--provided the backdrop for Gates' personal and touching eulogy.
"I lost my father when I was 24. The wisdom, the guidance and the advice was gone until I met a friend called Jim Musick," Gates said, beginning to cry at the podium. "Jim picked me up when I was down, and when I was too high, he brought me back to reality."
During the eulogy, portraits of Musick from youth until retirement were interspersed with action photos, newspaper clippings and memorabilia to create a visual biography of the man Gates described as "reliable as a sunset." The high-kicking collegiate and professional fullback was captured in uniform, as was the sheriff at ribbon-cutting ceremonies and the young Marine Corps officer at home with his wife and child.
At the close of his eulogy, Gates presented Martha Musick, James' wife of 60 years, with the American flag that had draped Musick's coffin.
"Brad Gates is like a son to us," said Martha Musick, 80, as she greeted about 100 guests at a post-service reception. Added the Musicks' 57-year-old daughter, Marti Jo Holcombe of Orange: "Brad loved my dad, and my dad certainly loved him. I thought that came through."
Musick's two brothers and two grandsons were at the memorial service, along with hundreds of longtime colleagues and friends, in uniform and out. Police officers from several agencies around the county, as well as nearly 50 sheriff's deputies, were there too; a few officers stood at attention throughout Gates' speech.
Born in Missouri, Musick moved to Southern California as a boy and excelled in football, basketball and track at Santa Ana High School. He attended the University of Southern California on an athletic scholarship and played in two winning Rose Bowl games as well as on the 1931 national championship team.
Upon graduation, Musick played professional football for the then-Boston (now Washington) Redskins; he was selected for the NFL all-star team in 1934. When a knee injury ended his football career at age 26, he returned home to Orange County and joined the Sheriff's Department.
After a stint as a county probation officer, Musick joined the Marine Corps in 1943 and was part of the 5th Division, the first American troops to occupy Japan. He left the Marines as a major.
Returning home from the war, Musick was elected sheriff in 1946, defeating six primary challengers and the incumbent, Jesse Elliott, by a 2-1 margin.
"Jim had a gift to see what was possible and a desire to do what was achievable," Gates said. "Jim's many contributions have been etched into the history of Orange County. His proudest accomplishment was his development of people."
During his tenure as sheriff, Musick watched Orange County grow from a population of 200,000 to 1.7 million. He launched the county's crime laboratory, spearheaded the efforts to build three additional jail facilities--one of which now bears his name--and started the Sheriff's Basic Academy for Law Enforcement Training.
Musick also expanded the Sheriff's Department to include special juvenile, civil, training and mounted patrol divisions.
"He was a giant in our profession," said Peter Pitchess, 80, Los Angeles County sheriff from 1958 to 1980. "He was a great leader. He led by persuasion and example, not by force. He excelled in education. He was innovative, and he left a great legacy."