Former Anaheim Police Sgt. Rick Martinez has been spending a lot of his retirement hanging out in graveyards.
The longtime APD public information officer, who left the agency in December 2011 after a 39-year-career, isn’t on some morbid quest.
Rather, he’s feeding his insatiable thirst for detective work.
Martinez, 61, calls it his “hobby,”but it’s more of an obsession: Compiling a comprehensive history of the Anaheim PD, a pursuit he’s been involved with, in one way or another, for more than 25 years as the agency’s de facto historian.
Martinez is about halfway through his latest project: compiling the life stories of all 33 of the APD’s top cops dating back to 1870, from David Darias Davies, the first town marshal (as they were called until 1921), to Raul Quezada, who last year replaced John A. Welter as chief.
“You don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been,”Martinez says of his interest in compiling the colorful history of the Anaheim PD.
Martinez’s quest often takes him to graveyards, where he seeks to confirm the final resting places of some of Anaheim PD’s finest.
Until recently, locating where Davies was buried had proven elusive to Martinez, whose mind excitedly bounces around as he shows a visitor around his home office in Orange —a room packed with files of old newspaper clippings and pictures, some dating back to the 1800s.
“I geek out on this stuff,”Martinez admits.
Based on exhaustive searches on such Internet sites as ancestry.com and Findagrave.com, Martinez learned that Davies, who made $50 a month as Anaheim’s top lawman in 1870, was buried at La Verne Cemetery —or so Martinez thought.
Even Davies’ surviving descendants had no clue where the pioneering town marshal was interred.
In April, Martinez spent about three hours scouring the 10-acre cemetery in La Verne, looking at every headstone to find Davies, who died of unknown causes in 1885 at age 46.
After that fruitless search, Martinez phoned La Verne Cemetery officials, seeing if he had somehow missed the headstone.
“Nope,”a cemetery official told Martinez. “We have no David Davies here.”
Like the former detective he is, Martinez remained undeterred. Finding where Davies was buried was the last piece of info Martinez needed to close the book on Anaheim’s first town marshal. Martinez had been looking for Davies’ grave since the early 1990s, when he began putting together the APD’s first historical yearbook.
Martinez happened upon a letter from November 1982 that said Davies was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights —the final resting spot of more than 300,000 souls.
So, in mid-June, Martinez headed out to the graveyard in East L.A.
He was about to leave after another apparently failed attempt to locate Davies’grave.
Then, a 5-foot-high, gray-marble headstone caught his eye.
He walked up to it to read the marking:
In Memory of Our Brother
The birth and death dates matched up.
“I stopped in my tracks,”Martinez said. “I was shocked.”
Martinez finally could close the book on David Darias Davies, Anaheim’s first top lawman.
“When I saw his headstone,”Martinez says, “I was so excited. It was like finding a box full of money. I had solved the mystery.”
Martinez’s historical sleuthing has turned up other interesting facts about the city’s town marshals and chiefs of police, including James S. Bouldin (1928-42), a former first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates who lured Babe Ruth to a city-sponsored exhibition baseball game.
“It’s important that people remember these chiefs (of police),”Martinez says, “from the good to the bad to the indifferent.”
Martinez devotes about 20 hours a week to his historical “hobby.”
In addition to enjoying his three grandchildren and spending time with his wife, Rebecca, he’s an instructor in media relations and crisis communications training, commissioner on the O.C. Juvenile Justice Commission, and a board member of Honoring Our Fallen, the Orange Public Library Foundation, and Friends of the Anaheim Police K9 Association.
“I can tell you one thing about retirement,”Martinez says. “I now know a lot about graveyards.”