Editor’s note: In honor of Behind the Badge OC’s one-year anniversary, we will be sharing the 30 most-read stories. This story originally published March 12.
You probably never saw him coming.
But “Big Ed,” radar gun in hand and ever-present tub of peanut butter inside his motorcycle saddle, certainly saw you.
And chances are you were on the receiving end of a traffic ticket from this giant of a motors officer whose, er, generosity in issuing citations was huge — but no match for his big heart.
Social media sites were abuzz Thursday with funny stories and heartfelt words following the death Wednesday afternoon of a true Anaheim PD legend: George ‘Big Ed’ Edward Kline.
Kline, who retired in 1999 after 36 years with the Anaheim PD — 25 of them spent as a tough-as-nails traffic cop with a deep, booming voice — died on his way home from a medical appointment March 11.
During the drive home, he turned to his wife, Donna, and said he didn’t feel well.
Big Ed, sitting in the passenger seat, then closed his eyes and went to sleep.
When the couple arrived home, Donna couldn’t wake him up.
Paramedics responded to their home and determined Kline had died from a probable heart attack.
He was 74.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with (Kline’s family) during this difficult time,” Chief Raul Quezada told APD employees in an email Wednesday evening.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Born on May 24, 1940, Kline started at the APD on Aug. 5, 1966. He transferred to the agency as a reserve officer from Long Beach.
He retired Aug. 19, 1999.
During those years, he earned a reputation as a hard-working, by-the-book officer who believed police officers and members of the department’s professional staff should aspire to a higher standard.
That’s why Kline would issue tickets to employees in the Anaheim PD parking lot for such ticky-tack violations as not having a license plate on the front of their personal vehicles.
No one was spared from his citation-happy ways.
“(He was) legendary for his tireless commitment to enforce traffic laws and unprecedented volume of citations issued,” Quezada said in his email.
Quezada noted that several officers and firefighters who visited the Kline home Wednesday afternoon and evening exchanged stories about receiving their first traffic tickets from him when they were teens.
Kline patrolled all of Anaheim, but was a fixture in the east side of the city where he lived — long before the Anaheim Hills section was developed.
It was a time when cattle still roamed on Nohl Ranch Road — and cops like Big Ed would have to chase the cows down if they broke free.
Generations of kids who attended Canyon High School, on Imperial Highway, especially were familiar with the larger-than-life motor cop.
On social media sites including the Anaheim Hill Buzz and Anaheim Police Department Over The Hill Gang Facebook pages, friends, colleagues and supporters of Kline expressed their condolences to his family as well as their love, respect and admiration for him — including fond words from those Kline busted over the years.
One woman on a social media website wrote:
Way back when I was in high school, I had the privilege of getting a ticket from you. I had failed to stop at a stop sign. And to this day I am very conscientious when at stop signs. Prayers to family and friends.
Another woman wrote that the citations Kline gave her made her learn to slow down.
Yet another recalled Kline “giving hell” to a donut shop lady for letting some high-schoolers buy cigarettes from her tobacco vending machine.
And yet another women recalled that her husband got a ticket from Kline the day before he retired — after years of bragging that he was the only one in the Anaheim Hills area who had yet to be ticketing by Big Ed.
“God bless you Officer Kline,” that woman wrote.
Over the years, Kline appeared on a few humorous video clips related to his penchant for handing out traffic citations.
In one posted on the Anaheim Police Department Over The Hill Gang Facebook page, Kline appears in a comical video with then-Chief Randall Gaston. The two are on mopeds and pretending to drag race each other while wearing helmets with little flashing lights on top.
Kline is survived by his wife, Donna, adult daughters Summer, Bonnie and Michelle, grandchildren Holly, Luke, Kyle and Sophia, a great-grandson, Isaiah, his sisters Kathy and Karen, his brother-in-law Rudy, and countless extended family members and friends.
He is preceded in death by his daughter Yvonne, who died a year ago.
Funeral arrangements are pending.