Have you ever told an old friend, co-worker or supervisor what you really thought of him or her?  Sometimes we wait until it’s too late.

     One of my important police mentors, who guided me through the early days in homicide, became a lifelong friend, long into retirement. Sergeant Ray Beck was a class act, dignified, suave, articulate and smart. He loved his job, I loved working with him.

     Fast-forward to 2002.  Living North Carolina, I hadn’t seen Ray Beck for several years. I knew he had battled on and off with cancer issues. One morning, the phone rang, it was Ray Beck calling from Miami. He struggled to speak, voice raspy, shallow breathing. “Marshall.  (pause-cough) Just wanted you to know (pause) you were like (pause) a son to me.” (pause)

     “Ray? What’s wrong?” 

     In a near whisper, he said, “I…I…(pause-cough)…love you.”

     Dial tone.

     Stunned, I choked up. Then burst into tears. I would have headed to Miami the next day but it was too late. Ray had passed. I never relayed the same message back.

     Ray Beck was the consummate mentor, having taught me another lesson from his death bed. Today, I have no qualms about sharing my true feelings with special people.

     How are we to know when we’ve unknowingly touched another life…until they come from nowhere to express admiration you never knew existed.

     Such was the case four years ago when – out of the blue –a former homicide investigator who worked under my command thirty-seven years ago, sent an e-mail expressing his affection and respect. It was astonishing, to say the least.

     “Joe ” was a new detective to homicide then, one of the “trainees” who showed a lot of promise. I didn’t know him well. We had no social relationship. We never worked on a case together or knew each other’s family. He was one of a crew of forty detectives.

     Joe knew that I had written a complimentary piece about a deceased medical examiner which inspired him to write the following:

     Dear Marshall,

     “…While we are the subject of telling others what we think of them while they are alive, I take this opportunity to tell you that, like Dr. Davis, you were admired, respected and loved by those of us who worked for you and had the special privilege to learn from you.

     “When I came to homicide at the age of 26, I foolishly considered myself a very good and competent police officer.  Under your command, I realized that I was not even close to reaching my potential. You were not the typical police supervisor.  Instead of barking orders, which you could easily have done because of your rank and command position, you chose to challenge our and tested our problem-solving skills with intelligent questions.

     “Just when we thought we had all the answers, you played devil’s advocate and exposed weaknesses in our cases that could be exposed by defense attorneys, judges, scientists, expert witnesses, the news media and many others. That’s why so many of the guys who came with me to homicide and worked under your leadership went on to enjoy long and successful careers in that elite bureau or as ranking officers in the department. Others like me took advantage of that knowledge and launched successful careers in the private sector.

     “You taught us without embarrassing us or making us feel inferior. You didn’t belittle us on our inevitable rookie mistakes and used them only as learning experiences. Your leadership made us feel confident and motivated. So, while we are both alive and well, and while neither of us has any immediate plans to leave this planet, I want you to know that you played a significant role in the early years of my career, helping me achieve a level of professionalism and proficiency that would probably have escaped me if our paths had not crossed.

     “Even after all these days. THANK YOU.”

     Joe — 


     No, Joe. It is I who admires you for your thoughtfulness for taking the time to express your feelings from the heart. You have humbled me beyond description. Because of you, I will more often share my thoughts and feelings to others, while I am still able.  You have reinforced a message I received long ago from an old-time mentor. You’ve helped to teach the teacher. Thank you, Joe.

     Those who deserve such feelings need to know, while there is still time.

     What are we waiting for?


  1. Helen Bennett September 15, 2017 at 1:20 pm #

    You are certainly right about this, Marshall!

  2. Charle September 15, 2017 at 2:11 pm #

    Wonderful sharing, Marshall. A lesson well-learned for all of us. We are all connected in one way or another.

    Thank you for all your special messages!!


  3. Joe Richardson September 15, 2017 at 2:14 pm #

    Very good article. Seems we find it hard to express our feelings–especially men. Thanks

    Thought you would be interested: Titusville Police and Fire Depts. retirees have set up teams to go around and help people who need aid with storm damage or trash removal. Good group.

  4. Richard Plager September 15, 2017 at 2:43 pm #

    I am most pleased to hear about your success in the Homicide assignment.

    Hope everyone has survived Irma; she sure was nasty; went right over my home.

  5. Thomas Ault September 15, 2017 at 2:52 pm #

    Being of a ripe old age I understand your consideration for others…too often have I left things unsaid and now too late to say them.

    You are an exceptional gentleman my friend, and one whose friendship I cherish.

  6. Dorene Harrison September 15, 2017 at 3:02 pm #

    Dearest friend, this piece rings true in my heart. I have had the opportunity to tell you of how you helped me turn my life in the right direction. I will remain in your debt. Love to you both! Dorene PS William Buckley wrote “Torch Kept Lit ” a book of eulogies which is simply wonderful. Check it out.

  7. Paul Webb September 15, 2017 at 3:06 pm #

    Well written and excellent advice

  8. George W. September 15, 2017 at 3:07 pm #

    You are one of the people that I learned this from…

  9. John McGuire September 15, 2017 at 3:11 pm #

    Very nice and timely anecdotes, Marshall; thanks for sharing.

  10. Ron Fischer September 15, 2017 at 3:13 pm #

    I agree with every word Marshall. The respect and admiration for many people I have known and worked with, never goes unmentioned. I very much like most of the people I have known in my life; but then I’ve lived a very fortunate life too.

    A great read and at a perfect time.

  11. Laura P. September 15, 2017 at 4:17 pm #

    This is a wonderful piece that should be shared with everyone. Post it on facebook. Vulnerability is a human trait and to be vulnerable makes us lovable. Love it a valuable word, once said it lightens a load.

    Glad you wrote this.

  12. Madeline September 15, 2017 at 4:23 pm #

    I love you… a good friend, of course………..:)

  13. Colleen September 15, 2017 at 4:25 pm #

    Even though we differ on how to get to a more perfect country, we both want the same end result: safety, peace, equal opportunities to learn and thrive, and a survivable future for our descendants, I still love and respect you and expect the same may be true for you

  14. Jan Siren September 15, 2017 at 4:45 pm #


    thank you for this sincere, heartfelt piece. The best thing you can do for the community is to keep writing and sharing your life experiences.

  15. Tina (Lil Sis) September 15, 2017 at 5:29 pm #

    Never go out of the house, ending a phone call or going to bed without saying “I love you” to the people you care about….my Mom and Dad did this and to this day so do I. To you the only “brother” i’ve ever had…I Love You too!!!

  16. Anonymous September 15, 2017 at 5:33 pm #

    It was not just the folks that worked for you that were influenced by your leadership, guys like myself watched and learned from you. I remember many of the times we talked that you imparted knowledge to me and most of all friendship. Thanks——-jack

  17. Donald September 15, 2017 at 6:11 pm #

    Marshall, your message of love is profoundly important for all of us with potential consequences many people may not at first see. A profession of love should be taken seriously. It is extraordinary and can affect an individual for life, whether accepted or rejected. You friend Joe was an inspiration for us all. My only question is why did he wait until the day before his passing to express such an eloquent and beautiful thought. I suspect one of the consequences is that you think very much about how you express your thoughts and to whom you express them! I am a firm believer in making sure the people you love know you love them, even if they reject that love.

  18. I Richard Jacobs September 15, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

    You right!

  19. Perry S Turner September 15, 2017 at 9:55 pm #

    Thanks for sharing, being retired and an official senior citizen, we become more willing to share our feelings with others in my opinion. This is a paridime shift from our roots as LEO’s. Your prose and personal stories lend creditably to this process. Yes Marshall you were held in high esteem throughout then Dade County with your expertise and guidance in The Homicide Bureau. I always look forward to your reviews, critiques, books and comments. Don’t stop!

  20. David Lee Valdina September 15, 2017 at 11:09 pm #

    Leo Buscaglia was very good at reminding us to tell a person you love them before they die. The man had some wonderful sayings and you can find them on line looking up his quotations. People can forget what you said, forget what you did, but almost never forget how you made them feel. And as we age, it is very worth the time and effort to pass these understandings on to the next generation.

  21. Brad September 16, 2017 at 6:45 am #

    Perfectly written!

  22. Anonymous September 16, 2017 at 11:37 am #

    Marshall my friend
    ,you continue to brighten my life with words and to you.,

  23. Dr. Ray September 16, 2017 at 12:00 pm #

    Hi Marshall,

    What a beautiful, touching and important post. As a clinical and forensic psychologist, one would think that stuff like this should come automatically to me, but my experience with gratitude came some years back, I’m going to estimate during the early or mid-1990s. I was just spontaneously reflecting on my life, particularly my childhood. My parents had an awful marriage and divorced when I was 11 years old. I woke up one morning and my mother was not at home. She met me on my usual route to school and told me that she would not be coming back home.

    During my early childhood years, there were several people who played an important role in my life: my maternal uncle and grandfather, my mother’s cousin Rose in Hoboken, and my best friend and his family. The family lived around the block from me. The father was a surgeon/general practicioner, who delivered me into this world, and who was my doctor until I went away to Univ. of Miami in 1965. Their son, Gerard Schwarz, got me interested in music and playing an instrument. He later went on to be assistant co-principal with the NY Philharmonic and conductor of the Seattle Symphony for many years. They included me in many family activities and would always take me down to their summer home on the Jersey shore. They served as role models for me, as I didn’t particularly like school. My grandfather was a kind man who would always give me a quarter to buy some fish cakes or a comic book when my mother and I would visit him, usually every week. My uncle Frank loved to go fishing, and would often take me along with him. If anyone on your list has ever read Footprints, these were some of the people who “carried me” through a not so pleasant childhood, though in all fairness, I did have my share of good times.

    Fast forward to the 1990s, my grandfather was long deceased, as was cousin Rose and Uncle Frank’s wife. I called Uncle Frank to thank him for all he did for me as a child, and after 10 minutes of reminiscing, he asked me “What did you say your name was again?” I turned to my wife and said “uh-oh.” Yes, it was a dementia. I was able to visit Dr. Schwarz, in Weehawken, NJ. He was of course retired, but doing well. Nearly all of the people who I wanted to thank for the important role they played in carrying me through a less than pleasant time in my life, were gone.

    Life passes quickly. It seems like just yesterday that I was in graduate school, wondering if I could pass statistics, computer programming and research design, or if these courses would be my nemesis in getting my Ph.D. Here I am today, retired, licensed in three states, doing part-time private practice, and battling cancer since 2009. For some years now, I’ve been saying good morning to strangers, complimenting someone who may be wearing a nice outfit, etc. Just a smile and some kind words can make a person’s day. I know it makes mine. And I thank you Marshall, for being one of the people who selected me for a position in the forensic serology lab. I sometimes wonder whether I should have stayed, or if moving on to grad. school was the thing to do. Anyway, life has generally been good for me.

  24. Snake Hunter{s} September 16, 2017 at 8:10 pm #

    Thank you; I’m grateful for your help… your essays, plus two fine books.

    – ‘Militant Islam In America’ – (plus) ‘The Way Things Oughta Be’

    that aided my efforts with this website. You are a rare gem. – reb
    ___ ___

  25. Jeffrey M Miniick September 16, 2017 at 9:00 pm #


    Thank you. Always good to be reminded of this. I try to do the same, to remind others, but frequently need reminded myself.

    Best wishes,

  26. Larry Henry September 17, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

    I recently lost a nephew who had been on drugs since he was 14 or 15. I had basically given up on this young man, although he was very smart and had potential. Last time I emailed him, I wished him well and told him to get help.

    That was a year before he overdosed.

    I wish I had it all to do over again.
    Actually, I wish I had half my life to do over again.


  27. Pat September 17, 2017 at 8:53 pm #

    Love our wonderful,talented friends,Marshall & Suzanne…

  28. John M September 17, 2017 at 10:54 pm #


    Several years ago I attended a celebration of liife for a friend. What a joyous time to share feelings with people that are alive. The dead can’t hear accolades. We should have life celebrations more often.

    Thanks for being a friend,


  29. Dan Townsend September 17, 2017 at 11:11 pm #

    Marshall, we rarely agree on political matters, but you rendered a wonderful service with these stories.
    I hope that all in the Pineda/UU community came through Irma ok. I have fond memories of “doublewide days” with the folks at Pineda UU.

  30. Alan September 19, 2017 at 2:45 pm #

    Excellent, how true the greatest virtue is love and showing it.