Clyde Ingalsbe, a 26-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol who made many friends in the community as a traffic officer in south Sacramento and Elk Grove, died Sept. 11 of cancer, his family said. He was 83.
Mr. Ingalsbe joined the CHP in 1958 after serving four years in the Navy. He worked in Crescent City for two years before moving to Sacramento, where his patrol car was a fixture in the Florin and Elk Grove areas for many years.
"He often said that he liked to work on the streets, where the people were not the highways, because they were so impersonal," said his wife, Nan Mahon.
With a bushy mustache and sideburns that earned him the nickname "Yosemite Sam" from colleagues, Mr. Ingalsbe was a friendly and reassuring figure who connected easily with local residents. He was a regular at the Eppie's restaurant at Florin Road and Stockton Boulevard, where other diners flocked to his table to say hello.
"It was amazing how many people he knew there," said Richard Baland, a retired CHP officer. "All the customers and waitresses would sit down and chat with him. He was not only a cop but a real part of the community."
Mr. Ingalsbe's job included riot squad duties at major events. During the 1960s, he helped control crowds at People's Park demonstrations in Berkeley and draft protests in Oakland. He faced down Cal Expo rioters in 1968 and stood in formation with other officers against protesters outside the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo.
"He was a strong presence, somebody you wanted on your side," Baland said. "But he was a soft talker, not overbearing and there's a lot to be said for that."
Clyde Keith Ingalsbe was born in 1929 in Wabaunsee County, Kan., where his father ran a community store. The youngest of five children, he grew up with strong values of right and wrong and helping others that inspired his decision to seek a career in law enforcement.
The family moved during the Great Depression to Washington state, where he played football in high school and picked apples during harvest season. He joined the Navy after graduation and served as a storekeeper on an aircraft carrier in the first squadron to carry atomic weapons.
He earned a criminal justice degree from Sacramento City College. He retired from the CHP in 1984.
Mr. Ingalsbe belonged to the Elk Grove Optimist Club and joined volunteers who built a horse arena for Project RIDE in Elk Grove. He helped caterer Jerry Strong cook and serve food to homeless people on holidays.
He had two children from a previous marriage that ended in divorce. He lived in Elk Grove and was married since 2002 to Mahon, a freelance writer. They were together since 1976, when they met while volunteering at a horseriding club in Elk Grove.
"We were working together in the snack bar," Mahon said. "Before he left, he had my number."