Everyone who knew Bob Flores has a story. Which makes sense, since Flores was the storyteller of all storytellers.
“He could tell a story like no other,” said Joe Vargas, a former captain who worked with Flores at the Anaheim Police Department.
On Tuesday, April 3, there will be plenty of stories shared as Flores is remembered at a funeral service in La Mirada. Flores died Friday, March 23, at his home after suffering from a series of medical issues and while in hospice care.
The funeral service is at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 3, at Beatitudes of Our Lord Catholic Church, 13013 Santa Gertrudes Avenue, La Mirada.
A sergeant when he retired in 2000, Flores was one of the most popular officers on the force, thanks in part to his outsized personality.
“I worked in the police department for 39 years and I have never heard one negative thing about him,” retired Sgt. Rick Martinez said. “It seems everyone had a story.”
“He was a larger than life character,” Vargas said.
According to Vargas, “Everybody in downtown Anaheim knew him, and he knew everybody. They all knew him and they all respected him.”
Flores was also a mentor to many incoming cops. He was active with the department’s Explorer and Cadet programs, and inspired many youngsters to pursue law enforcement careers.
“He was just a really good policeman,” Martinez said.
As word of Flores’ death spread, the Over the Hill Gang Facebook page, maintained by former Anaheim officers, was flooded with condolences to Flores’ family and remembrances.
Flores’ son, Max Flores, said he was flooded with responses when he posted the news on his personal Facebook page.
“People were pouring out about how great he was,” Max Flores said. “It made me proud. And these are macho guys who keep things inside and don’t usually pour their hearts out.”
For all of Flores’ ability to evoke laughter and clown around, a common term used to describe him was “a cop’s cop.”
For all his bonhomie, Flores’ first duty was enforcing the law. He was no pushover, and was a keen observer.
Many of the social media messages sent in the wake of Flores’ death followed the theme of respect for his work ethic, his ability to connect with all, and his fairness.
According to Max Flores, his father treated everyone “like gold.”
In one instance, Max Flores remembered his father calming down a woman on the phone who was hysterical after learning from Flores of her mother’s death.
“I could her screaming and yelling,” Max Flores recalled. “By the end she had calmed down and even laughed a little.”
Flores began his career with the Anaheim Police Department in 1968. Although he worked helicopters, narcotics, and gang enforcement, what Flores loved most was being a patrol cop, which he did up to his retirement in 2000.
“Even to the week he retired he was out chasing bad guys,” Vargas said, adding it was a running joke in the department that if Flores was on patrol, everyone would have to work overtime while Flores chased after suspects.
A ride-along with Flores was always considered a treat, because young cops, explorers, and cadets knew they were likely to see action.
Flores just had a nose for criminal activity and, according to Max Flores, had one of the highest arrest rates on the force.
“The things he saw were incredible,” said Max Flores, who spent many hours at his dad’s hip, spending five years in Explorers and two more on traffic control before branching off into investigations in college.
Until then, however, Max Flores said he always received recognition and respect as his father’s son.
“I wanted to be just like my dad,” he said.
Even after his retirement, Flores didn’t stray far. He worked part-time running things at the East Anaheim Station, which quickly became a popular police hangout.
On Vargas’ last week on the job in 2010, for old-time’s sake Vargas went on a foot patrol.
Even though it had been a decade since Flores had patrolled the neighborhood, Vargas said, “We ran across a guy who asked us, ‘What happened to Bob Flores? I miss him.’”
It’s a sentiment likely shared by many on the force.
Max Flores said his father’s last years were marked by declining health and, toward the very end, extreme pain.
However, Max’s stepmother, Cheryl Flores, related a couple of anecdotes to him that exemplified his dad. According to Max Flores, the last time Cheryl and his dad spoke, they were laughing. And when Cheryl Flores saw him shortly after he died, Bob Flores had a smile on his face.