The Big Guy: Sheriff Warren E. Rupf

Posted by on July 9, 2012

Me & Sheriff Warren Rupf


I received some sad news by email this morning. One of my best friends, who is also a former police reporter for the Contra Costa Times, told me that the sheriff we both so closely worked with — Sheriff Warren Rupf — is fighting leukemia and fears he hasn’t long to live.

Rupf, to me, is the epitome of what a sheriff should be. What a sheriff should act like and even look like. As sheriff (he’s now retired), he had firm authority, but also a terrific sense of humor. He was — and is as you can see below in his email to his friends about his diagnosis — a class act. A one-of-a-kind man.

In his efforts to ensure decent media relations, he would sometimes invite my friend and I to elaborate dinners at the nicest restaurant in town with some of his head honcho employees. It was important to him to have a good relationship with the press and he made that possible with his open door policy. Because of this, even though I was just a lowly reporter, I thought nothing of calling the sheriff directly on his phone for a quote. Let me tell you that there aren’t a lot of cops or politicians who treat reporters that way. Trust me.

Even when we wrote things that he may not have agreed with, he always treated us with respect. As a result, he earned my everlasting respect. Today, he and his family are in my prayers.

Here is what my former colleague, Lisa, wrote about Rupf this weekend. In the comments section, many former cops and those in the district attorney’s office talk about Rupf and say how he “ran a good shop” and had the respect of cops everywhere. They call him “one of the good guys,” “Big Chief” and the word “hero” is used more than once.

Here is the link to the article that follows:

Retired Contra Costa Sheriff Warren Rupf diagnosed with leukemia

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen

Retired Contra Costa Sheriff Warren Rupf has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

In his trademark, wry and witty voice, the 69-year-old East Bay native who served as his county’s sheriff for almost two decades, sent an email to friends and colleagues on Thursday.

He is exploring treatment options but the prognosis is grim for this type of cancer, he wrote.

“While rather morbid, this may be the only good news,” Rupf wrote. “When you buy this brand, you move rather quickly from check in to check out.”

Yes, Warren was an elected official and as a reporter, I kept my eye on him when he was in office.

But as I grew to know him over the years, I became terribly fond of him. When my son went into law enforcement, the sheriff offered his support and always remembered to ask about the young officer’s progress in the California Highway Patrol. (Warren tested with CHP as a young man but Contra Costa County called him first.)

From me and my family, Warren, we wish you and your family fair winds and following seas as you chart your way through this hazardous passage.

But as always, his own words are far better than anything I could come up with … Here’s what he wrote via email:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Shipmates and others with whom I have shared so much,

I choose an e-mail to share what follows to reduce the likelihood that the message gets caught up in politics or locker room editing (also an opportunity to respond to the charges that Marines cannot read or write. ) Should you choose to offer any response, it also offers an easy to schedule means. I love you all but I am not excited by the idea of putting you (or me) on a path filled with sympathy cards and grown-man tears.

While some tests are still being evaluated and treatment options explored, both are rather grim. I have acute myeloid leukemia. While rather morbid, this may be the only good news. When you buy this brand, you move rather quickly from check-in to check-out. I hate long, slow-moving lines.

Warren Rupf as a young Marine

Some will say that I should have retired earlier and enjoyed the good life. I say: Poppycock, my life could not have been any better. Be it Marine Corps , Office of the Sheriff , going toe-to-toe with a real labor leader or a beer at the slop chute with an old-school reporter, you made my list of those whom made my life one of few regrets.

I know that there are good men with whom I have lost electronic contact please consider sharing this with them as your paths cross and offer them my regards.

Semper Fidelis,


UPDATE: 3:46 p.m. Contra Costa Sheriff Dave Livingston sent this message to his department and other county offices:

As you may have heard by now, our friend and colleague, retired Sheriff Warren Rupf, has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. He is currently undergoing treatment but is facing many challenges as he fights this disease.

Yesterday he shared his condition with close friends and relatives. His family has asked that we respect his privacy during these difficult times. He is not able to accept visitors or phone calls.

Please keep Sheriff Rupf, his wife Carole, and his entire family in your thoughts and prayers.

I will update you when we have more information.

Thank you.

David Livingston


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5 Responses to The Big Guy: Sheriff Warren E. Rupf

  1. Kristi

    Thanks for stopping by Ann-Marie. My heart goes out to him and his family.

  2. Ann-Marie Fisher

    Warren and his entire family are in our hearts and prayers. Warren was one of the very few people my Dad looked up to both literally and figuratively. One of Dad’s favorite memories was being sworn in by Warren as a member of the Sheriff’s Posse. God Bless Warren Rupf and his family.

  3. Jeff Shelby

    Sigh. :(

  4. MIckie Turk

    I’m sorry that you had to receive this distressing news. Sheriff Warren Rupf is truly a class act.