Officer Gary Elton Rippstein

Officer Gary Elton Rippstein

Torrance Police Department, California

End of Watch Sunday, December 22, 1968

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Gary Elton Rippstein

Officer Rippstein was shot and killed as he and his partner attempted to arrest an auto-theft suspect. The officers were invited inside the home by the man's wife and were immediately fired upon by the suspect. Officer Rippstein was struck by one of the rounds and killed. His partner and other backup officers returned fire and killed the suspect.

Officer Rippstein had served with the Torrance Police Department for 6 years and was the agency's first police chaplain. He was survived by his wife and three children.


  • Age 29
  • Tour 6 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Saturday, December 21, 1968
  • Weapon Handgun; .45 caliber
  • Offender Shot and killed

Most Recent Reflection

View all 26 Reflections

I was a Freshman at Torrance High School back in the Fall of 1955.

I had started learning to play the trombone a year earlier at Hillside Elementary school, so when I got to high school I enrolled in the high school marching band. That's where I met Gary.

I can't recall now if he was a Junior or a Senior at the time, but he was tre section leader of the trombones.

As members of the band we were allowed to "brown-bag" our lunch in the band-room. Maybe fifteen or so were of us band members chose that option as lunchtime regulars, and that included Gary.

I was investigating joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the time, and often our friendly lunchtime chats drifted towards religion. I remember another band member, George Simon often sat there right next to Gary and also took an important part in the religious discussions we had, (Important, to me, at least) .

I later learned that George's grandfather was the Stake Patriarch)

Gary always was soft-spoken but rational when it came to explaining the Mormon point-of-view in our luncheon chats. And had a very deep part in making is desirable to join the Church a few years later. His clear and rational answers to my many questions I had as an investigator helped to clear some of the questions I had..

But, in these daily lunch-time "get-togethers."

We drifted all over the board in hourly Noon-time chats and I grew to admire and respect Gary.

And as a fellow trombonist, there was anther bond I had with him.

He was super friendly and always decent and cordial to us underclassmen.

He ha great sense of humor, and he never went"'off color" or inappropriate in anything he ever said.

And whenever he teased us (hey, he was still a teenager then, too), he always laughed with us, and not at us.

Gary was just he kind of person one likes to be around.

I only had that one year with the Torrance High Marching band because the next year I was transferred off to the [then] new South Torrance High school.

I only saw Gary after that, infrequently, after that usually LDS-sponsored events.

But to those of you who were to remember him, Or, who said above you never had the opportunity to meet him, I can say it was an honor and a privilege to have been a close school mate with him for that one year of my life. To those of you who ever played in high school bands there was a lot more than the daily practices.

It's also the trips to athletic events and extra practices for Fall and Spring concerts. Heading off to UCLA or the USC Colosseum for band-day weekend events. Or often riding back and forth to school with George Meyers or Gary Burgeon in his old hatch-back Hudson.

I was home for Christmas in 1968 when I heard of Gary's passing. I went to his funeral, but what I remember most were the hundreds of police cars an what seemed to be an endless procession with their mounted squad car tops flashing on-and-off in what seemed to me an appropriate mournful farewell to a Fallen Office, from his funeral in the Redondo Beach Stake stake center near Alhambra Park to his final resting place.

I never heard an ill word or a jealous snide remark about Gary...(Officer Rippstein)

He was a great guy to me and.... now, more than fifty years later, as I write I have a huge lump in my throat and tears of both love and sorrow rolling down by cheeks.

Gary, I never had a real chance to tell you that due to a lot of your influence, I joined the Church in 1959,

I went on a mission to Germany in 1961 (to early 1964). I attended BYU-Provo (beginning in the Fall of 1960) just after my mission, I took out a year to attend the [then] Church College of Hawaii where I met my wife Margaret Butler from Spokane) and after receiving my doctorate in 1973 from the University of Oregon, I went back to Hawaii, to teach anthropology, sociology and geography at BYU -Hawaii from 1971 to 2006.

My wife and I were married in the Salt Lake City Temple in December 1969 ad we have three sons and a daughter (from age 40 to 48 today). And to you Gary's children and family, he was highly instrumental in putting me on the road that has been my guiding path until today.

If either Officers Mike Watts or Larry Caudill might recall (high school mates of mine from South High School) also, after graduation, of the Torrance Police Department. I had to clear my name for a Federal security clearance from the Torrance PD, And with them standing there behind the desk directly in front or me to clear some teenage mischievous pranks that I got in before I attended high school.

They guffawed and slapped each other on their backs, because when the knew me in high school, Here I was the classical 'goody-goody' nerd standing in front of them, trying to clearing clearing my police record. Thet liiked it ovewre and with a acussing smilke tget just saim all thie ghappened when you werer a minor. We cah do what is called "Hanfling it within the Depertment. And as KI walked out Officer called out. "Hey Max, ow tat you are ab adllt be suer ]re the keeop your nose clean from now n. I looked back and said something to the s effecxt
Thanks guys Glad to see you again and thanks for the warning." We all laughed and I walked away with a two thousand albatross removed from my shoulders.

A few years before my friend, Gary Rippstein had already turned me around in those daily band-room lunch-time chats. And, for now....the right person at the right time.... at the crucially very right time, Your father, Gary Rippstein was a person who caught my attention has a great part to play in setting me back on the tack.

A track that I a cynically wisecracking fifteen year-old kid had no idea I could follow, even want to follow. But trombone-playing always nice kid with the big toothy smile, saw something in me and help and set me on a track I will lever live to regret.

Max Stanton
High school friend

June 22, 2020

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