Bruce Wayne Philpott 1944-2014
Outspoken former Pasadena police chief succumbs to cancer
Bruce Philpott, who rose through the ranks to serve as interim chief of the Pasadena Police Department, then in retirement ran for a seat in the state Assembly and later competed for a City Council seat in Glendale, died Tuesday. Philpott suffered with throat cancer for several years. He was 70.
“Bruce was loved and admired by everyone who knew him and we are all mourning his death, which followed a long and difficult illness,” said Mayor Bill Bogaard, who took time out from vacationing with his family to speak about Philpott.
Philpott may also be best remembered for his sharp criticisms of the Los Angeles Police Department’s chief following the March 1991 beating of Altadena’s Rodney King by four LAPD officers in Lakeview Terrace. Philpott was the first among area police chiefs to call on former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates to resign in the wake of the beating.
People may also recall that just prior to that incident, Philpott was involved in another high-profile situation, one in which he was pulled over by Glendale police on Nov. 30, 1990 for allegedly playing his music too loudly. Philpott said he believed he was targeted because his passenger was an African-American woman. Glendale officials strongly denied the claim, saying their officers acted appropriately.
State Assemblyman Chris Holden, who served on the Pasadena City Council during Philpott’s time with the Police Department, was unaware of his passing when contacted by the Weekly Thursday morning.
“What I remember most is that he was more than just a member of the department,” Holden said. “He was a part of the community. He developed personal time and a connection with so many people. He cared a lot about Northwest Pasadena and the people throughout the community. He was a good friend.”
Having worked as head of Northwest Pasadena programs at City Hall from 1985 to 1987 while serving as a police commander on special assignment, Philpott was a firm believer in the philosophy of community policing after taking over as acting chief following the retirement of Chief Jim Robenson in 1989.
In 1991, Philpott retired from the force after a 28-year career, and in 1994 he ran for Assembly against incumbent Republican Bill Hoge. Philpott lost the election in one of the most contentious contests in many years. In 2009, he ran for a seat on the Glendale City Council, coming in fifth in a field of 12 candidates.
According to his paid obituary, Philpott was born in Portland, Ore., to Vernon and Zoe Philpott on Jan. 8, 1944. He loved spending time outdoors with his brothers, Kent and Gary, in both Oregon and later Sunland, Calif. As a young man, he loved sports, especially baseball.
On Wednesday, Philpott’s children sent out notices of their dad’s passing to family, friends and supporters.
“He was a beautiful man, so strong. His fortitude and determination throughout his fight against cancer was truly amazing,” wrote Kris Strong, Greg Philpott and Kelly Sturgeon, who was his caregiver. Philpott’s children and other family members were present when he died.
In the email, Philpott’s children thanked the hospice that cared for their dad, Seasons Hospice, and their aunt for also helping care for him.
“We are truly touched by all of your kind words, and what you have shared with us about our father and your fond memories of him. We will be having a celebration of life for him in the near future and will keep you informed,” they wrote.
According to the obituary notice, Philpott is also survived by grandchildren Dustin, Samantha, Carson, Nicole and Mark. In his honor, memorial donations may be made to the Boys and Girls Club of Pasadena, 3230 E. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena, Calif., 91107.