Thursday, January 14, 2010

He walked away.

No fanfare accompanied his passing this last Christmas Eve, but a good man joined his maker. It came as a shock to many of us when the news came. We knew the virus that attacked his heart in 1997 had reduced its capacity to function, but I'm sure, like me, few considered how serious it really was. Robert Alley was the Resident Agent in Charge of the Corpus Christi office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms when he was forced into retirement because of his medical problems. He was my friend and I will miss him.

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,

Indian Prayer

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.


  1. Pappy so many fine men in law enforcement go quietly and without the appreciation they deserve after giving their all and then some.

    By the way~in my opinion, only REAL men cry, and especially only REAL police officers.


  2. Beautiful tribute Pappy. Doing that kind of job I can see how one would get really tight with his or her co-workers. Know this law enforcement workers are appreciated. The silent majority of citizens needs to express our thanks more often.

    Sorry for your loss of a good friend. Best

  3. Thank you Steve. I appreciate those comments.

  4. Your tribute was beautiful. I am so sorry for your loss. Real friends are hard to come by. I know the bonds of those close to you. Your Mother told me once, Never be sorry for tears whatever they are for. Real men do cry and Cuz, I know you and those you worked with are REAL men. Love

  5. Another good man of the thin blue line is now in presence of the Lord. God bless all those who grieve his loss and celebrate his life. Rest in peace Bob Alley, I salute your honorable service.

  6. I have promised and promised again...always at funerals to visit the widows of my friends. The list grows and still I don't go.
    I really don't know why.

    This was really good to read.

  7. I talked to Bob's widow for a little while this morning, and we are going to do better. Thanks to all who have contributed comments thus far.

  8. Dennis,

    Thanks so much for sharing your blog and for the beautiful tribute to Bob. The early days in Tyler were his fondest memories and he always loved sharing stories of his memorable times stomping the east Texas woods with the Tyler gang. He could remember experiences like it was yesterday.

    Here is a video of the last song from the memorial service:


  9. Gosh I'm sorry you lost your friend. That was so sweet and loving. I agree with Joy, real men do cry. The poem was very fitting. I know you'll miss him terribly. Do keep up with the widow. Poor thing must feel really lost right now. If she's like me, it'll take a couple of months or more before the real pain starts. It's when we realize that we'll never see them again. She'll need her hubby's old buddies to remember happy things about him. That sometimes helps.
    God bless. xx

  10. So sorry for your loss-and his family's too. Sounds like he was a good one.


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