McLaughlin combined police work, empathy |

McLaughlin combined police work, empathy

Charles “Charlie” McLaughlin, an Irish Catholic cop who was born on St. Patrick’s Day, died May 21, surrounded by his family at his home in Nevada City. He was 77.

A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m., May 29, at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Grass Valley.

His son, Tim McLaughlin, said Mr. McLaughlin was an extraordinary man, managing to be a tenacious law enforcement officer while always remaining empathetic to others.

“He’d arrest someone for major narcotics violations and then my dad would invite him to have dinner with our family before he went off to prison,” Tim McLaughlin said.

“We used to say he’d arrest them, then befriend them,” he added.

His three sons all had careers in the California Highway Patrol; his daughter is a successful businesswoman in San Diego.

Mr. McLaughlin was born March 17, 1930, and raised in San Francisco. He lied about his age and joined the Merchant Marine during World War II when he was 15, traveling around the world three times.

In 1948, he joined the Marine Corps and was a Korean War veteran.

Mr. McLaughlin joined the San Francisco Police Department in 1953. In 1960 he left the force for the Department of Justice, where he worked on narcotics and organized crime cases until his retirement in 1985.

“He was a highly decorated San Francisco cop,” Tim McLaughlin said. “The man was truly fearless.”

His son said he loved the Marines, was a dedicated policeman and a staunch family man.

“We used to tease him later, when he moved to Nevada County, that he had become a social butterfly,” Tim McLaughlin said.

Mr. McLaughlin was active in Nevada County in the Marine Corps League, Elks, Knights of Columbus and other civic organizations. He was proud of his role in helping to create the Nevada County Memorial Wall at Memorial Park in Grass Valley.

His family remembers him as a charismatic man who valued friendship, loyalty and personal integrity over possessions.

Mr. McLaughlin is survived by his wife of 54 years, Betty; sons Timothy Neil of San Diego, Charles Scott of Novato and James Edward of Napa; daughter, Karen Ann of San Diego; grandchildren Matthew of San Diego, Elizabeth of Seattle, Wash., Kathleen of Napa, John of Napa and Kendra of San Diego. He is also survived by his sister, Patricia Ferguson of Nevada.

He was preceded in death by sisters Doris and Rosemarie and by brother Bernard.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Fund Cancer Center, P.O. Box 1810, Grass Valley, CA 95945 or to the National Museum of the Marine Corps, c/o Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 420, Quantico, VA 22134-0420.


To contact Readership Editor Dixie Redfearn, e-mail or call 477-4238.

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