Death of police veteran did not halt planned celebration of his life

Department 'pioneer' Dennis Neverve honored posthumously March 3

Dennis Neverve, whose career in the Palo Alto Police Department spanned more than 46 years and included more than 100 commendations, died suddenly Sunday, March 2, just two weeks after his retirement and one day before the city was set to pass a resolution in his honor. He was 70.

That didn't stop dozens of his fellow officers from attending the Monday night meeting to pay their respects and watch the City Council adopt the resolution.

Neverve, who served as a full-time officer between 1967 and 1997 and as a reserve officer after that, retired on Feb. 14 after working under six different police chiefs, from William Hydie, who hired him in 1967, to current Chief Dennis Burns. His duties included patrol officer, traffic enforcer, range master, warrant officer, property-crime detector and hostage negotiator.

His commendations include a notice of merit for talking an armed suspect out of his weapon and a medal of valor for rescuing several citizen from burning homes during a 1985 fire in the Foothills, according to a resolution that City Council plans to pass in his honor March 3. In 1986, the Lions Club named him "Officer of the Year" for his courage on the job, the resolution states. It singles him out for "sensitivity, loyalty, fairness, courtesy and professionalism."

In an interview Monday, March 3, Burns called Neverve a "throw-back" officer, known for an "uncanny ability to get along with anybody who he came into contact with." He had lived in Palo Alto for many years, Burns said, and was a guy who "really enjoyed the purest form of police work -- being on the street, working with people in the community."

"In Palo Alto, you come into contact with a variety of different people and he would always treat them with dignity and respect," Burns said. "He used his influence as opposed to his authority and he managed to get great results. He didn't have any airs about him."

After learning about Neverve's death, the department thought about canceling the March 3 celebration but decided against it. The feeling was that the departed veteran would have wanted the city to proceed with its plans and celebrate his career. Burns said people will be arriving from other parts of the country, including Arizona, Utah and Idaho, to pay their respects to Neverve.

Though his tenure as a full-time officer concluded in 1997, Neverve maintained a regular presence as a reservist, Burns said. He was particularly devoted to honoring the department's three fallen officers, Lester Cole, Gene Clifton and Ted Brassinga. The council's recent resolution lauds him for organizing the memorial events for these officers. It also recognizes his contributions as a "pioneer of the evidence team" who had "mastered the art of photography and fingerprint collection."

Mayor Nancy Shepherd read the resolution at Monday night's meeting and led the council and the crowd in attendance in a moment of silence for Neverve.

In an email notifying the police community of Neverve's sudden passing, he was praised as "an extraordinary police officer, a loyal servant to Palo Alto, an outstanding man, and above all, our faithful friend."

Burns, who spoke at Monday's meeting about Neverve's sudden passing, quoted another officer's description of Neverve as "a cop's cop and also a gentleman's gentleman."

Two weeks before his retirement, Neverve penned an essay to his colleagues titled "My Legacy" recounting his first contact with police – when he was about 10 and he joined Burbank police in a ride-along to find two boys who were shooting out streetlights with BB guns. He moved to Morgan Hill in 1956 and found himself living across the street from then-Police Chief John Moreno, who Neverve said "allowed me to 'ride along' before 'ride alongs' were considered." At 21, he began applying to various police departments in the area, finally joining Palo Alto's in July of 1967.

"Now, after a total of 46 years, 7 months and 7 days (30 years full; 16 years, 7 months and 7 days reserve) I retire as R-4," Neverve wrote. "I have worked for six different PAPD chiefs and protected seven United States Presidents and the Queen of England who visited our city at various times of my career.

"My journey throughout my police career with PAPD actually turned into an adventure which I will never forget. I hope other PAPD officers follow in my footsteps."


Like this comment
Posted by mark Meyers
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 3, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Rest in Peace, you are a good man and I enjoyed working with you and seeing you at the Chili Cook-offs and other events. You will be missed good sir.

Like this comment
Posted by gretchen aberg
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 3, 2014 at 2:58 pm

I have been Barbara's neighbor for 15 years and was there last night. She and her family are absolutely devastated. Thank you to all of the EMT's, fire & police staff, who all came to them instantly and tried their best to help Dennis!! Mostly, thank you to Dennis for bringing so much love and happiness to Barbara and her family. Midtown will miss you, Dennis!!! <3

Like this comment
Posted by Raymond
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 4, 2014 at 11:11 am

What a great man. It's too bad that his type of professionalism is a "throw back".

Like this comment
Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2014 at 3:23 pm

An icon of professionalism [portion removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Rector
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 4, 2014 at 6:29 pm

My wife and I have know Dennis for many years. His passing is very sad . I accompanied Denny to many races with his "No Limit" dragster. His perseverance was never lost no matter how the car ran,pure dedication. Really no surprise because that was the kind of man he was,dedicated to do his best in whatever it was he was doing. Proud to have know you Dennis. Rest in Peace our friend.

Like this comment
Posted by Rick S.
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 4, 2014 at 6:37 pm

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by L. D.
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Dennis was the real deal, the good guy, a neighborhood Cop, he was interested at all times, wanted to put things in a real light -take note folks, it's the end of an era...notice the Revolver in the pic from recent times-he was allowed that based on his legacy. If he wasn't a Cop, he would have been a legend in another way, race car driver, movie star or...? 1967, Palo Alto was another world, light years away from now and you lived through the times and made a difference! Thanks Denny. RIP

Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 5, 2014 at 10:27 am

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Social Butterfly
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 5, 2014 at 2:42 pm

He was one of the only officers that I considered approachable and fair. He is a hard act to follow. Hopefully his legacy will live on for others in the department to follow up to.....RIP, you are missed Dennis.

Like this comment
Posted by Linda
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 7, 2014 at 9:59 am

[Post removed.]

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

QBB opens in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 12 comments | 4,174 views

Become a Master Gardener - Deadline Sept 21
By Laura Stec | 17 comments | 1,287 views

One more year
By Cheryl Bac | 2 comments | 655 views

Attraction to a Person Outside Your Relationship
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 465 views


Registration now open

Sign up for the 33rd annual Palo Alto Weekly Moonlight Run and Walk. This family-friendly event which benefits local nonprofits serving kids and families will take place on Friday, Oct. 6 at the Palo Alto Baylands.

Register Here