In Honor of
The Deputy Ralph W. Peifer
Marin County, CA Sheriff's Department
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Deputy Ralph W. Peifer
October 26, 1995
County supervisors last week adjourned their meeting in memory of a popular sheriff's deputy who served in the San Geronimo Valley for almost a decade.
A memorial service was held for Deputy Ralph Peifer, 49, in Petaluma. Deputy Peifer, who spent 20 years in the Marin Sheriff's Department, was admired in the San Geronimo Valley for his integrity and honor.
His death occurred Oct. 21 when Mr. Peifer and his wife Vickie were riding near their home in Sebastopol and something spooked his horse. In being thrown to the ground, he sustained massive injuries to his brain and fell into a coma. He died five days later.
Deputy Peifer had patrolled the San Geronimo Valley three days a week for the past nine years. "He loved working in the Valley," said one of his longtime partners, Deputy Manny Galindo. "He had a lot of friends out there."
After his shift was over, he would often visit friends at the garage or saloon in downtown Forest Knolls, the Flanders' ranch in Woodacre, or Roseanne Urban's house in Lagunitas.
Overcame Valley skepticism"He liked to keep an eye on things and make sure that everything was
okay," noted Peifer's friend Urban. "In an area that is sometimes reluctant to cooperate with the authorities, he commanded a lot of respect. He treated everybody with the same amount of dignity. He handled things in a calm manner."
Rancher George Flanders said, "Whatever Ralph did, on or off duty, was done professionally. He was a talented person as well. He could look at a rose in bloom and tell you what kind of rose it was, or he could overhaul an engine completely and have it running."
Flanders' wife Anita added: "He had pride in his work, and pride in his home life." Deputy Peifer was born in Hartford, Connecticut, on March 6, l946.
Because his father was in the Navy, he grew up all over the United
States with his two sisters and brother. He went to high school in Hawaii, where he enjoyed water skiing and riding his motor cycle. He graduated from Vacaville High in 1964.
Valor in VietnamA few years after graduating from high school, Mr. Peifer was inducted into the Army and served a year-long tour of duty in Vietnam, earning two bronze stars for bravery and valor. He was released from the Army in 1968.
Two years later, Mr. Peifer became a correctional officer at San Quentin Prison, where he worked five years. In 1975, he became a County sheriff's deputy.
Deputy Peifer was well known for his compassion. He issued a lot of friendly warnings instead of making immediate arrests.
"He had a strong sense of justice," said Deputy Galindo. "We often spoke of how the justice system didn't always serve the victims of crime."
"He wasn't gung-ho about hauling people off to jail. He gave everyone a fair chance." said Mrs. Flanders. Inspired youths
"Basically, he saved my life," said Ms. Urban, explaining that Deputy Peifer helped her get legal advice when she was having problems with her ex-husband. With the officer's assistance, she went from getting $13 dollars a month to $350 in support for her two boys, now 10 and 12, she said.
"He was my ultimate hero. He never compromised his morals to fit into somebody else's mold. In this day and age, when we have people like Mark Furhman and the people that beat Rodney King, my kids idolize the police because of Ralph," she added. "They really thought that Ralph was cool, which is a great compliment from kids who usually reserve that word for basketball stars," said Urban.
Deputy Peifer is survived by his wife, Vickie Jarvinen Peifer; his son, Sean Smith, of Sebastopol; two daughters, Leah and Diana of Florida; two brothers, Lynn Moss and Christ Peifer, both of Vacaville; and a sister.
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Deputy Ralph W. Peifer
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