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Ex-sergeant Gene Fowler mourned
Gene Fowler, the Ceres assistant police chief who retired in 1992, died Monday morning. Fowler, 77, passed away at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto where he checked into Friday for medical problems.

"He was probably one of the officers' best kind of sergeants to work for," recalled Public Safety Commander Brian Weber. "Look in the dictionary for command presence - he exuded it in work and uniform and the way he carried himself and the way he conducted himself. He had a lot of life experiences before he came to the city of Ceres. He was a war hero, was shot at, crashed an airplane. ... He was a great mentor for me."

Fowler served about a year as a reserve sheriff's deputy before he was hired as a Ceres Police Department patrolman in October 1970 by then Chief Leroy Cunningham. He worked his way up patrol sergeant in 1975, and moved into administration in 1983 shortly after Chief Pete Peterson arrived on scene. Fowler served as a detective, assistant chief and commander. He retired in July, 1992 after 22 years of service in Ceres. Retirement didn't set all that well and Fowler later came back as a reserve officer assigned to background investigations.

Weber said he will remember Fowler for being honest and direct, no nonsense man who didn't believe in political correctness. "He would not settle for that acquiescing and giving in to making people feel good, you know being disingenuous. Truth was truth and facts were facts and if you didn't like it that was your problem."

Former Ceres officer and former mayor Louis Arrollo remembers that Fowler, an experienced Air Force veteran, brought a "sense of maturity to an otherwise younger department."

"One of the things that struck me about him was his sense of humor that was kind of different," said Arrollo. "He would always find the humorous side of situations we were in. It kind of put people to ease, I think. He had you laughing all the time."

His boss, then Chief Pete Peterson said Fowler was a "complete pleasure and delight" to work with.

"He was always upbeat and could handle any situation, just an all-around great guy," said Peterson.

Peterson remembered that Fowler was a tremendous family person. "I mean his kids and grandkids and his wife meant everything to him."

Alva Gene Fowler was born on Jan. 12, 1932 in Burnwell, W.V. When he was 18 years of age, he enlisted in the Air Force and served in Korea and Vietnam. He was transferred to Modesto and was an Air Force recruiter for many years. After being transferred to Castle Air Force base, he retired as a master sergeant after 20 years of service and went into police work.

Fowler was a life member of the Stanislaus County Peace Officers Association. Upon retirement he was promoted to honorary assistant chief of the Ceres Police Department. Mr. Fowler was a member of the Masons and enjoyed golf, spending time with his grandchildren, and working outdoors.

A funeral service will be held at 3:30 p.m. Friday at the McHenry Chapel of Franklin & Downs in Modesto. A viewing will be at 2:30 p.m. at the chapel. Internment will follow the service at the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in Santa Nella.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Ella Fowler of Modesto; his daughter, Patricia Streeter-Parraz; 11 grandchildren, Jerry, Todd, and James Cook, Kathern Cook-Olvera and Gloria Matherson, Eddie and Paul Streeter, Kelly Streeter-Phillips, and Geno, Matthew, and Jennifer Fowler; and 12 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by daughter Donna Marie Cook and son Alva Gene "Butch" Fowler, Jr.