Alfred William Trembly, anchor of his loving family and a proud chief of police and retired U.S. Army officer, died peacefully at home in Mission Viejo on May 28, 2016. His wife of 71 years, Beth, preceded him in death three years ago, as did his daughter, Marebeth Gordon, in 1999. He was an incredible patriarch to a beautiful family, a loyal and dependable friend, a dedicated public servant and a role model to so many. We cannot imagine a more honorable life.
Known to family and friends as “Bill” or “Chief,” Bill was born in Huntington Park, California, on April 24, 1924, to father, Alfred James and mother, Mary Margaret. He attended Huntington Park High School where he met the love of his life, Beth.
After graduating in 1942, the two were married and Bill served as sergeant in the U.S. Army from 1943 until 1945, after which he entered the Army Reserves and served as a major until 1971. During this time, he graduated from the University of Southern California and Pepperdine University with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Business Administration. He was also a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico.
Bill’s career began with the Los Angeles Police Department in 1947, where he progressed through the ranks and retired in 1970 with the rank of commander.
One of his most “public” accomplishments was the implementation of using drug sniffing dogs to recognize marijuana for drug busts. His last assignment was as staff aide to the chief of police.
Immediately upon retirement from the LAPD, Bill became chief of police of Santa Barbara. He was recognized throughout the state for being innovate yet practical in his style of management. His department was the first in California to implement the 911 system. He was chosen by the federal government to be the lead city in the development of a computerized access system that would interface with the federal and state data banks. Highly thought of as a “Cop’s Cop,” Bill showed an uncanny ability to defuse heated moments. His clearheaded leadership style won over the rank-and-file and earned him the respect of his department.
Bill retired from active police service in 1980 and he and Beth moved to Canyon Lake to live their retirement years, golfing, traveling and enjoying their many friends. But Bill was not a man to sit around, so he entered the private sector as a consultant. For three and a half years, he contracted with Chevron USA, Exploration Division to help plan, develop and implement a security system to protect the company’s classified information from the competition. Bill was later selected to serve on the Riverside County Grand Jury in 1988 and was appointed to serve as foreman of the 1989-1990 Grand Jury.
When Canyon Lake applied for cityhood in January 1990, Bill felt the pull to return to public service, this time for his adopted hometown. On December 1, 1990, Canyon Lake became Riverside County’s 22nd city and Bill Trembly was sworn in as the new city’s first mayor.
Bill served the City of Canyon Lake, first as mayor, then as a member of the City Council, for 12 years. During that time, he took a city that had started from scratch to one with separate contracts for police, fire, animal control, engineering, building, planning and emergency services, as well as its own city hall, police vehicles, equipment and even a library, making Canyon Lake a fully-functioning city.
He also served as chairman of the board of directors for the Riverside Transit Authority (RTA), ensuring that, however small a city Canyon Lake was, it would not be overlooked by the county.
Bill’s service to his fellow residents didn’t stop when he left politics. In 2003, he made a run for the POA Board and handily won a seat, serving as POA vice-president. He was reelected the following year, serving this time as Director; but he found it necessary to cut his term short and stepped down as a result of Beth’s deteriorating health.
Despite his impressive career achievements, his greatest legacy will be as a husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, friend, soldier, scholar, mentor and coach. To his children and grandchildren, he is a shining example of how to live a good, decent and honest life, a standard to which we aspire. Bill lived his life to serve others, personally and professionally, and will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved him.
He is survived by his son, William Ryan, of Canyon Lake; daughter, Michelle, of Rancho Santa Margarita; eight grandchildren: Lisa Gordon, James Gordon, Benji Trembly, Jesse Trembly, Justin Butorac, Tyler Butorac, Bryant Butorac and Brett Butorac; six great-grandchildren; two great-great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
Burial with military honors is scheduled for Tuesday, June 14, at 11 a.m. at Riverside National Cemetery, where Bill will join Beth.