George Drake, who served two full careers in the Navy and in law enforcement and then retired with his wife to a piece of heaven up a rise from the Mendocino Coast hamlet of Albion, died Monday at age 88.

Drake worked briefly as a deputy with the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office before he moved to the Santa Rosa Police Department in 1963. He retired at the rank of lieutenant in 1979.

"We looked up to George as he had the maturity and knowledge from having retired from the Navy as a chief petty officer," said Rod Sverko, a retired Santa Rosa Police commander.

Drake's wife, Mary, said he was always proud both of his military service and his nearly 20 years as a policeman.

George Drake was born in Petaluma and grew up there and in Santa Rosa. He left Santa Rosa High School, where he played trumpet in the school band, to enlist in the Navy in February 1941.

He fought aboard aircraft carriers in the Pacific and decided to make a career of military service. He served 20 years and retired in 1961.

Late Santa Rosa Police Chief Melvin "Dutch" Flohr pinned a badge on him in the summer of 1963. "George was a professional and was respected by all who served with him. He had a level head and made solid tactical decisions," Sverko said.

Mary Drake, his second wife, recalls falling in love with him after he came to her Santa Rosa home, on duty, in 1972.

"I had my TV stolen and he was the detective assigned to the case," she said. "I knew from our first meeting that he was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with."

That despite his failure to recover the television.

"He was very special," his widow said.

Upon Drake's retirement from the police department more than 30 years ago, the couple moved to a piece of family property on the ridge above seaside Albion, between Elk and Little River.

"It was our park," Mary Drake said.

Her husband's failing health prompted them to move to Fort Bragg about a year ago. He was at a hospital in Ukiah when he died Monday.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by daughter Debbie Parks of Weaverville, half-brother John Morris of Idaho, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

There will be no services.

— Chris Smith