The Garden Grove Police Department has lost one of its icons.
Retired Sgt. Bruce Beauchamp, who began his nearly 30-year career at the agency six months after it was formed in 1956, and whose razor-sharp memory made him the department’s unofficial historian, died Tuesday from heart problems caused by a serious infection, Chief of Police Kevin Raney announced Thursday.
Beauchamp, 78, who had been battling the infection for two weeks, died at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange.
The Santa Ana resident is survived by his wife, Lollie, and two grown daughters.
“Bruce was endeared by everyone who worked with him and who had the pleasure of knowing him,” Raney wrote in an email to Garden Grove PD employees.
“Bruce made a huge impact in this department and the community,” Raney wrote. “For those of us who had the pleasure of working with and for him, Bruce made an indelible mark on all our careers.
“(He) cared deeply about this department and its members. He was always proud of its history and tradition of service. (And) Bruce was a caring and gentle man.”
Raney, who started at the Garden Grove PD as a cadet in 1976, is one of the last remaining full-time PD employees to have worked with Beauchamp.
“He was the first sergeant I worked for,” Raney told Behind the Badge.
Known as “Beau” around the department, Beauchamp worked patrol his first five years and was promoted to sergeant in 1962. He served a variety of assignments in that capacity, including public information officer from 1980-1986.
Beauchamp retired from the Garden Grove PD in February 1987. When he started at the agency, there were 27 sworn officers. Now there are 156.
“He’s one of a very few people who can have a 30-year career and not make any enemies,” Raney said. “He always had a smile on his face, was always pleasant, and he was known for his ability to treat everyone like human beings.
“He also had a great sense of humor that he would use to make any situation better, whether out in the field or in the office.”
Beauchamp was extremely active in the Garden Grove community, serving as president of the Garden Grove Boys and Girls Club and president of the Garden Grove Lions Club. He also was a longtime member of the Garden Grove Elks Lodge and, for several years, served on the executive board of the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival.
Beauchamp also remained active with the Garden Grove PD in retirement.
“He maintained not only close relationships with his fellow retirees, but he would come to department events and awards banquets,” Raney said. “There are probably five generations of police officers who knew Bruce.”
In 2009, at the Garden Grove PD’s annual memorial ceremony for the city’s five officers killed in the line of duty, Beauchamp was selected to wear the agency’s first uniform during a presentation of the department’s uniforms over the years.
“He was always about service,” Raney said. “He did it as a police officer, and he did it after he retired. He realized the value and importance of serving the community.”
A memorial service will be held Wednesday, Aug. 6, at 10:30 a.m. at KiwanisLand, 9840 Larson Ave., Garden Grove. The public is invited.
Beauchamp is the second from the left in the front row of the above photo.