Column: A eulogy for Sheriff Alex Villanueva — you could have been so much more than he ever was
“It is only when you are truly ready to die that you begin to die in a meaningful way.” — Steve King
It was a day that would have defined Sheriff Alex Villanueva forever – the eve of his retirement.
But in the early morning hours of Monday, a Thursday this past year, this was the reality.
It was the last day of work and the end of his 22-year career as Sheriff, one after which he began to make his mark after serving as chief of police in Val Verde County for more than a decade.
In February, he was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to be the California Highway Patrol’s assistant chief, putting that agency’s chief, Mike Bohn, in line for the position.
The deputy sheriff who would be left behind would continue to live in the historic Pico Rivera home that has been in his family for more than 115 years, and he would begin to leave a legacy.
In September, the California Highway Patrol named Villanueva its deputy chief.
But his final day as the deputy sheriff of Val Verde County would be the first of many, starting with the celebration Friday, Nov. 13, the eve of his retirement.
By the time the celebratory dinner ended at 3 a.m., he was gone, just as he said he hoped to leave.
“At least, I’ll be leaving with a piece of my heart,” he said. But “I always will have something to leave with,” he said.
“I knew he was going to go, but I always hoped that he would stay a little longer.”
He would go on to work as an investigator for the Riverside County district attorney’s office and the Sheriff’s Office in San Bernardino County before