Alice Chandler, thought of to be the primary girl to function an Orange County sheriff’s deputy, died earlier this month. She was 94.
The cowgirl, who held her badge from 1949 via 1951, additionally labored as a canine breeder, cattle herder, Christian missionary and caregiver throughout a well-traveled life that took her from her birthplace of Memphis, Tenn., to Irvine Ranch to Africa and again to California.
Born Dorothy Alice Chandler on June 19, 1928, she was certainly one of 9 kids.
Her household moved out west throughout the Nice Despair. She, alongside together with her mom and two sisters, grew to become caretakers on the 93,000-acre Irvine Ranch, the place passing cowboys and patrolling deputies taught her tips on how to shoot a gun, Chandler stated in a 2009 interview with California of the Previous.
Surrounded by cowboys and cattle, Chandler discovered tips on how to trip a horse at 16. In 1949, a month after her twenty first birthday, she was summoned to then-Orange County Sheriff James Musick‘s workplace in Santa Ana. He requested her to patrol the land round her house by Peters Lake to scare away poachers and different trespassers, Chandler recalled.
“I had no coaching apart from the deputies out within the discipline,” Chandler stated. “I didn’t need to go to courses. And naturally, I didn’t need to put on a uniform.”
After an hourlong interview, Musick handed Chandler a badge and a signed identification card that granted her police authority. However the job didn’t pay, and she or he had to make use of her personal gun and horse, Chandler stated.
As a particular deputy, Chandler can be on name working for and patrolling property owned by the Irvine Co. — holdings that will in the end play a pivotal function within the growth of Orange County.
Chandler was at a slight drawback when she first began. Her private gun, a Smith & Wesson .32-caliber revolver, had a protracted barrel that was not appropriate for horseback using.
“I put it in my holster and each time I obtained on the horse, it was so large it stored getting in the way in which,” Chandler stated. “So, I instructed my mother. I don’t know the place she obtained the cash. I stated, ‘I’ve obtained to have a smaller gun.’”
Wanting again, Chandler appreciated her mom’s tenacity in serving to her fulfill the deputy function.
“Are you able to think about a mom in that day and age, understanding that her daughter’s going to be a deputy sheriff, and never saying, ‘Oh, you’ll be able to’t do this expensive. You would possibly get killed otherwise you would possibly no matter’? Not my mother,” Chandler stated.
Footage her mom took with a Kodak Brownie captured Chandler together with her golden curls and cowboy boots, sporting a pistol and her deputy’s badge.
Chandler by no means used her gun whereas on patrol and by no means made an arrest, as a result of individuals revered the badge.
“In these days, all you wanted to do was trip your horse for individuals to show round,” stated Ray Grimes, curator of the Orange County Sheriff’s Museum & Training Middle.
As Chandler put it in 2008, in response to her biography from the museum, “I used to be simply on the home, and we watched to see if someone got here; we might see automobiles down the filth street. I rode my horse round, with my badge and my gun, infrequently. Imagine it or not, the trespassing stopped. I’ve a sense it wasn’t simply me, however it might have been that the trespassers stated, ‘We obtained a deputy sheriff over there.’”
Chandler’s profession in legislation enforcement ended shortly after it began, when her household relocated from Irvine Ranch and purchased their very own, extra modest plot of land. She continued to trip horses, be taught rodeo abilities and herd cattle, in response to her biography.
She and her sister had been later employed as extras for the 1957 movie “The Spirit of St. Louis.” Ultimately, she and her sister earned their very own pilot’s licenses with assist from their mom, Chandler instructed the Orange County Register in 2012.
Within the Seventies, the household’s property was misplaced to foreclosures, Grimes stated, and the Chandlers had been pressured to say goodbye to their horses, canines and their ranch life.
“Their life modified dramatically at the moment once they needed to let go of all that,” Grimes stated.
Chandler then traveled to Africa as a Christian missionary, the Register reported.
It wasn’t till 2008 that Chandler — who labored as a caregiver upon her return to California, in response to the Register — thought concerning the badge, pistol and sheriff-signed identification card that had lengthy lain forgotten in a toy chest. She wrote to then-county Sheriff Sandra Hutchens to say she needed to return the gadgets as a result of she didn’t have any kids to inherit them.
“I’d love to show in my badge and card to you nearly 60 years after getting it,” Chandler wrote. “I feel it could make a hoot of a narrative, particularly if I’ve by no means been formally launched from the division.”
Chandler didn’t have any speedy household she was near and relocated to Leisure World in Laguna Woods later in life, Grimes stated. He gave her an Orange County sheriff’s coin that she proudly displayed on the entrance of her walker.
“She was an actual pistol,” Grimes stated.
Chandler died June 10 at a Corona convalescent house the place she lived for a number of years, in response to her buddies.
Present Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes referred to as Chandler “a ray of sunshine to all who knew her” and stated she “served as an inspiration for a lot of girls in legislation enforcement.”
“She constructed particular bonds with many ladies in legislation enforcement in Orange County and can all the time be remembered for her spirited character and heat coronary heart,” Barnes stated in an announcement. “I ship my condolences to all who knew and liked her. She can be very missed.”
One of many girls she befriended was former Backyard Grove bike officer Katherine Anderson.
In a 2020 outing, Anderson took Chandler to breakfast after which to a horse steady. Chandler admitted that it had been greater than 30 years since she final noticed a horse up shut.
Anderson recorded Chandler pushing her walker and jokingly stated, “Decelerate sizzling rod.”
Chandler beamed and stated, “I don’t know if I understand how.”