Robert Alley, Danny Carpenter, Richard Inman and I all started work with the Bureau in the early 70's in Tyler, Texas. We were the young guys. The older agents were mostly interested in finding and destroying whiskey stills in the woods of North East Texas. We were the ones who cut our teeth on the newly revamped statutes of the 1968 Gun Control Act. We worked together for about five years before the fortunes of government service saw us all transferred to duty stations far apart. Richard Inman was the first to go, dying in an automobile accident. We all attended the funeral and it was just like no time had passed. Bob was the office historian and story teller and he kept us on track as we recalled all of the fun times we had during those early years.
Danny and I worked together again in the lower Rio Grande Valley late in our careers. We called and talked with Bob on occasion and once or twice we visited. It could have been more, but the press of our lives seemed to sweep us along as the years passed. Bob was a true friend. He was a man of his word and he valued those early days when we struggled to get started. Our wives also grew to know each other and all our reunions were pleasant ones.
A couple of weeks ago we attended Bob's memorial service. A collage of pictures scrolled across the screen set up in the chapel, taking us on a trip through his life. So many good memories. We had a good visit with Bob's wife Linda and made promises to be more diligent in staying in touch. Danny and Jean attended, along with Barbara and I and one former supervisor. But I was disappointed to see how few of the colleagues Bob touched during his working life showed up at the memorial. I did pretty good until the music started and, like it often does, upset my face. I had to reach for my handkerchief.
Sometimes those of us who carried the badge and enforced some unpopular laws were maligned in the press, but I worked with many who were not only good family men, but capable professionals. Bob Alley was one of the good guys. I offer this brief tribute to a man who deserved it. You will be missed. This poem was printed on his remembrance card
In Loving Memory, Robert Alley,
When I am dead
Cry for me a little
Think of me sometimes
But not too much.
Think of me now and again
As I was in life
At some moments it's
pleasant to recall
But not for long.
Leave me in peace
And I shall leave you in peace
And while you live
Let your thoughts be with the living.