On Wednesday, October 26th, 30 of our retired and active LAFD Chief Officers gathered at Tam O’Shanter in Atwater Village to celebrate, honor and express gratitude for more than 130 combined years of dedicated service provided by our recent retirees. Retired Chiefs Anthony Matthews, Stacy Gerlich, Dale Drummond and James Ruiz were the guests of honor who all humbly reflected on their career experiences. They each selflessly focused on the heartfelt relationships they developed throughout their careers rather than their personal accomplishments.
Stacy was recognized for her dedication to public safety on the macro level by serving as the Department Disaster Preparedness Officer overseeing the CERT program. As a single function Paramedic, she shared a story of an opportunity she had to enter into a burn container and experience a flashover. She shared how the experience grew her appreciation for her Firefighter brothers and sisters and the daily dangers they face. She is enjoying her retirement and spends her time as a woodcraft artist.
Jim reminded us how fast our careers go by. He shared an analogy of how his 35-year career took all of 10 minutes. It resonated with everyone in the room. He was humbled to have had an opportunity to be a firefighter of the department and the opportunities he had to progress through the ranks.
Tony has always been appreciated for his quiet demeanor and humbleness and he did not let us down with his soft-spoken speech. However, he did share how he not only grew up in the City of L.A., but how he still lives in the City and is so grateful to have served the City he loves and lives in.
Dale shared his appreciation of the rich tradition of the LAFD and how it was only when he was doing hard labor of reroofing a house with his father, that he was convinced the Fire Service would be a good career. He shared his appreciation of the quality of people he has worked with over the years.
During social hour and beyond there were many accounts of courage, leadership, commitment and sacrifice. Resoundingly the theme was how fast time has gone and the pleasure it has been to work with such amazing men and women.
There were nine retired members in attendance. Historically, the retired members outnumbered the active members. It is great to see so many active members attending the last three dinners. In the future the COA board is exploring opening the dinner to spouses, significant others and partners for honorees. More information will be coming at our next general membership meeting on this subject.
We hope to share many of the same memories and camaraderie with all of our members, retired and active at our next retirement celebration.
COA Executive Board