Charles "Chuck" Sorenson had moved from Southern California to the sleepy Sacramento Delta to become its resident California Highway Patrol officer, working out of his Isleton home and patrolling country roads.
He had been married 2 1/2 years and had a 16-month-old son when he left on patrol March 15, 1963. That would be the day he died.
Sorenson was shot twice at close range by one of two teens on a brief but bloody rampage. After killing the CHP officer, the boys crashed Sorenson's cruiser into a police barricade, crushing to death a Solano County sheriff's deputy.
On Friday, a stretch of roadway in the area where the officers died was named after Sorenson. His widow, Melinda Sorenson, who went on to become a high school teacher, and his son, David, attended the ceremony in Rio Vista.
Signs will proclaim that Highway 12 east of Highway 160 and west of the Sacramento County line is dedicated to his memory.
"I'm overwhelmed, that after 50 years, that this is happening," Melinda Sorenson said before the dedication ceremony. "I'm really grateful that they are doing this, that he will be remembered. It is going to be strange to drive across Highway 12 and see his name on a sign. My son is ecstatic."
Sorenson was on patrol when he got a radio call about a robbery in Lodi. The two Sacramento teens, Richard Price, 18, and a 16-year-old, strode into a service station in Lodi and tried to hold up a man.
The Bee's account of the day described the teens as having a "don't give a damn" attitude. They ended up wounding the man and then stealing the service station owner's car.
Sorenson spotted the car on Highway 12, prompting him to whip his car into a U-turn and chase the fleeing automobile, which went out of control at the Rio Vista Bridge, striking a light standard.
The teens fled on foot, with Sorenson following. He chased one teen, unaware that another was nearby.
Two shots were heard in the neighborhood, and moments later the patrol car sped off.
The report in The Bee said Sorenson had been shot twice in the neck. The teens escaped, tearing down Highway 12 at an estimated 130 mph.
The Solano County Sheriff's Department had commandeered a meat truck, which they pulled across the highway as a makeshift blockade. Solano Deputy Hale Humphrey also stationed his patrol car in front of it.
The teen at the wheel of Sorenson's stolen cruiser rammed Humphrey's vehicle, bending it into a U shape. The deputy, caught between his car and the meat truck, was crushed as he opened fire on the oncoming patrol car with a shotgun, according to newspaper accounts.
The Bee noted that Sorenson attended Sacramento Junior College and Sacramento State College. He served in Southern California approximately two years before he was transferred to Isleton around 1959, according to the paper.
"My husband would be 82 today," said Melinda Sorenson. "I was nine years younger. This blue-eyed, blond, bachelor highway patrolman came to town. I only knew him about four years. We were married two and a half."
An estimated 1,000 people attended Sorenson's funeral at Fremont Presbyterian Church in Sacramento, with 400 standing outside the opened front doors.
The dedication of the roadway was spearheaded by the California Association of Highway Patrolman, retired CHP officer Dave Abood and others.
Abood never met Sorenson, but growing up in Rio Vista, he had heard of the shooting as a child. Years after Sorenson's death, Abood worked the resident Delta post in Isleton. He said Sorenson's actions drew him to become a patrolman.
The incident a half-century ago was shocking for tranquil river towns such as Isleton and Rio Vista, Abood said. "We never thought it would happen so close to home."
Price was sentenced to death for the slayings and spent several months on death row in San Quentin before his conviction was overruled. The California Supreme Court granted him a new trial because he had not been fully informed of his rights before he was questioned.
He was later sentenced to life in prison. The 16-year-old was sent to the California Youth Authority. Those involved with the dedication did not know if either was still alive.
Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079. Follow him on Twitter @Lindelofnews.