Retired Seattle Police Officers Association

Last Ring

Take a moment to remember our friends and associates who have passed.

Chuck Gorham #2933, retired Seattle Police Narcotics Detective passed away on December 27, 2017 at the age of 72. He missed his 73rd birthday by two days.

Chuck was born in California. His mother moved the family to the Seattle area when he was five years old. He was raised by a single, working mother. He attended North Hill Elementary in Des Moines. While in the 5th grade, he met Kathy, his future wife. They went to Mount Rainier High. Because he had to help his mother with living expenses, Chuck worked after school at a gas station. He was specializing in working on hot rods. Upon graduating from high school in 1963, he married Kathy. He needed another job besides working in a gas station, so he became a hod carrier for a brick mason. Construction was seasonal, so he moved to a more permanent job working at Sweden Freezer making kidney dialysis machines during the day while still working at the gas station during nights and weekends. He had a growing family – two sons. During these five years, he went to auto mechanic training and electrical training. By early 1968, he was ready for a career with security and benefits, so he applied to the Seattle Police Department.

Chuck was hired in June of 1968. He worked patrol for the first twelve years on the job: most of it in Georgetown; seven years in the Valley; and three years in South Park. His first partner was Bob Perry #1200. When Bob was promoted to Sergeant, Chuck teamed up with another younger officer – Larry Farrar #2360. They worked for Harry Hanson #1801, Jim Hanson’s #3697 father. Early one 3rd Watch summer shift, while patrolling the service roads of Jefferson’s golf course, their squad car got stuck. After laboring to get it free, all they accomplished was the rear wheels were buried to the hubs and both Larry and Chuck were covered with mud. They finally gave up and called for discrete assistance. Rick Day #2959, and Dick Sherwood #2902 responded with a rope. They barely managed to break the rear wheels free and get them on firm ground. As Larry and Chuck thanked them, Dick replied, “No problem, but why are your golf clubs in the back seat? Were you getting prepared for the next SPGA event?” Anyway, Larry and Chuck drove back to Georgetown to get fresh uniforms and bribe the trustee with extra candy and cigarettes to thoroughly clean their mud-encrusted patrol car. Chuck was good luck for his partner, because Larry also made Sergeant.

Chuck knew Ray Johnson #2569 and began sharing his moonlighting job at Chuck’s Market in the Valley. Chuck needed a night off during February 1975 to coach his kids’ soccer team. So, Ray backfilled. That night, Ray had the fight of his life. It was only saved by the experimental bullet-proof vest that Ray was ordered to wear for an LEAA sponsored six- month pilot project. Ray was shot multiple times in the chest, arm, and hand, but managed to fight the suspect off. Ray was the absolute first officer to be saved by the vest. For the entire story, see the May 2016 Guardian article or get on the RSPOA website. It was a good thing Chuck took the shift off because he was not part of the pilot project. In fact, in the beginning, the officers were not enthusiastic about the vests.

Years later, when Chuck moved to the Central Precinct, he worked for Larry, his old partner. When Larry was assigned to Narcotics, he convinced Chuck to follow in 1980. He became the section’s “tech guy”. Due to his training as a mechanic and electrician, he was able to build surveillance cameras, surveillance vans, and place covert listening devices. He even trained the local FBI, DEA, and ATF federal techies. He attended and taught at various regional and national conferences and schools.

Every Super Bowl, Larry would have all the Narcotics crew over to watch the game in his remodeled rec room. During one game, he mentioned that he planned to put a skylight in. After hearing this plan a couple of seasons, Chuck had enough, so during the next game, he took action. While the rest of the detectives watched the game, he left the room. All of them heard a neighbor running a chainsaw. Larry commented, “Why would a dip s*#t be doing yard work during a bowl game?” All of a sudden, his ceiling fell in with roof debris and broken sheet rock all over the rec room. Chuck stuck his head through the hole saying, “Don’t worry, I’ll cover the cut with a tarp and return tomorrow with flashing and a skylight.” The next day, it was done. Chuck was an officer of action – Larry was a good captain of procrastination and delegation.

Another time, Chuck noticed someone was messing with his unit coffee cup. Its insides were never washed, so it was completely stained. He claimed it made his coffee taste stronger and milder. Well, someone washed it clean, messing up his gourmet coffee taste. Everyone denied doing it, stating to look at it caused gagging, not to mention touching it. But every night, it was washed. So, Chuck sat up a pinhole camera to surveil his coffee cup. He filmed the culprit – Marie, the night janitor. She was just trying to do a good job – no good job goes unpunished.

One day, Acting Sergeant Jim Geiser #2790 caught Ken Zarko #3312 holding a mirror for Chuck while he lined up needle nose pliers on one of his teeth. Jim yelled, “Stop! You’ve got dental benefits! Use them! You might get an infection or break the tooth into several parts.” Chuck ignored him, pulled his tooth, and then admired his surgery work. Jim said, “That’s disgusting, and you’re insubordinate!” Chuck replied, “It was nice and easy, and I paid as much attention to you as you do our regular sergeant.”

Chuck stayed in Narcotics for nine years. He returned to Patrol for his final six years on the Department. He retired for service after 26 years.

His dream in retirement was to build his own home on the forty acres he owned in Tonasket. He did build a beautiful house. He became a gentleman farmer and raised Vizsla hunting dogs. For fun, he rode snowmobiles, motorcycles, and golf carts, but not on the greens. He lived in Tonasket until passing. He is survived by his wife, Kathy; sons, Daniel, and Darren; and two grandsons, Michael, and Benjamin.

Dan Oliver
Executive Secretary
Seattle Pension Office