Rowland 'Barney''s Story
Rowland 'Barney' Forte in 1962
Rowland "Barney" Forte passed away peacefully March 13 in San Leandro, CA. He was 92.
Born April 24, 1924 in Albemarle, North Carolina, to Rowland Kary Forte, Sr., and Helen Mills, he rose from humble beginnings to lead a remarkable life by any standard - a decorated veteran of two wars and revered Inspector on the Oakland Police Department. He epitomized the so-called "Greatest Generation."
At 17, Barney ran away to join the Navy and served tours in the South and Central Pacific during World War II and also in Korea, as Flight Engineer and Crew Chief. He was awarded numerous medals and citations, including the Air Medal. As a decades-long member of the Naval Air Reserve, he attained the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer.
He met his wife of 54 years, Elenore Christian, at a big-band dance in Oakland, CA. They wed in 1944 and remained married until her death in 1998.
In 1947, he joined the Oakland Police Department, where he remained for 28 years - 18 of them as Inspector; in fact, the last living OPD Inspector. He moved his family, with three young sons, to Hayward in 1954.
A former member of Albemarle's team that won the 1940 American Legion Baseball National Championship, as a Little League and Senior League manager he was a role model for and positive influence on many. Barney was also an avid Oakland Raiders fan and was passionate about music, especially jazz and blues artists like Django Reinhardt and Charlie Musselwhite. Those who knew him were invariably recipients of his humor and generosity.
His retirement dinner in '75 was attended by members of the FBI as well as local shopkeepers who pooled their money to buy him a plaque or shared stories of him going the extra mile for them. From 1978, he enjoyed his retirement years in Pioneer, Amador County. He was an active member of the Oakland Police and Fire Retirement Association, Oakland Police Officers Association, Oakland Police Widows and Orphans Association, and the Amador County Peace Officers Association.
Barney had a sharp, meticulous mind and steel-trap memory until the very end. He was most proud of his wife and family, his years as a police officer, and his service to his country. He leaves behind sons Jim Forte and his wife Lupita of Manteca, Pat Forte and his wife Anne of Castro Valley, and Dan Forte and his wife Kelly of Weatherford, TX; grandchildren Dustin, Brynn, Lindsay, and Travis Forte; and great-grandchildren Drew, Macy, Abraham, and Samuel Forte. He was preceded in death by brothers Johnny ("Buck"), Dick and Gene, and sister Peggy.
Arrangements were handled by Daneri Mortuary, with inurnment in "The Garden of Valor" in Sunset View Cemetery. Contributions can be sent in Mr. Forte's name to the Widows and Orphans Aid Association of the Oakland Police Department, P.O. Box 11836, Pleasanton, CA 94588. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.danerimortuary.com and signing the guest book.
Published on March 20, 2017