Gaithel Ware III, a retired Sacramento police captain who was decorated for bravery for rescuing a family from a burning car crash, died Oct. 17 of liver cancer, his family said. He was 62.
Mr. Ware began a distinguished career with the Sacramento Police Department in 1976. He climbed the ranks working in major units including crime scene investigations, internal affairs and homicide and also served as a department spokesman. He was promoted to captain in 1995 and was assigned to the office of the chief.
He graduated from the prestigious FBI National Academy and the California Law Enforcement Command College. He retired in 1999 with a reputation for integrity, former colleague Richard Gregson said.
"He was very well respected as someone who never forgot where he came from," said Gregson, who left Sacramento to be police chief in Manteca and Walnut Creek.
"No matter what promotion or assignment he got, it never altered his approachable and personable management style. He always believed that people needed to be treated fairly."
Mr. Ware was off-duty in 1990 when he saw a head-on collision on Jackson Highway and led other witnesses in pulling a woman and two small children from a flaming car. He was honored for bravery with the Silver Medal of Honor, the department's second-highest honor, in 1992.
He was a founding member of the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy of Sacramento. He was active in the Police Athletic League and Airport Little League.
The son of a Baptist minister, Mr. Ware was born in 1949 in Corpus Christi, Texas. He moved with his family to Sacramento and was named to the all-city baseball team at Hiram Johnson High School.
He earned a bachelor's degree from Union Institute and a master's degree from Cal Poly Pomona. He married his wife, Leslie, in 1967 and raised three children.
He worked as a restaurant chef and an insurance underwriter before going into law enforcement. After retiring, he taught criminal justice classes at Sacramento State and volunteered with a TV news consumer program.
"He had a love for law enforcement," his wife said. "It was about protecting other people. That's what originally drew him to the police."
NOTE: This story was changed to reflect that Richard Gregson was police chief of Walnut Creek, not Walnut Grove.