ARVADA, Colo. — Gordon Beesley was an English major who became a police officer, a vegetarian who rode his bike to work, and a drummer with a picture of his dog tattooed on his shoulder.
And he was a father and a friend and a husband to those who loved him the most.
"Your dad has already given you the greatest gift any father can give his boys: The roadmap on how to live life." Sgt. Brian Thome, one of Beesley's closest friends, told Beesley's sons in a eulogy Tuesday. "How to think of others before oneself. How to take one's job seriously, but not oneself. How a life of service can be more valuable than any amount of money."
Officer Beesley, who left behind his wife and two teenage sons, was shot and killed in an ambush last week in Olde Town Arvada. He had spent 19 years with the Arvada Police Department, including time as a school resource officer for Oberon Middle School.
Thome's eulogy, among others at Beesley's funeral Tuesday, painted a picture of Beesley as a kind soul and an exuberant friend, a jokester with an infectious laugh and a passion for serving and pleasing other people.
Thome told of their unlikely friendship; Thome, a native of small town Wisconsin who loves to hunt and fish, and Beesley, a musician and cyclist who, as Tommy joked, "knew what the word 'organic' meant."
Thome first noticed Beesley in the locker room at the Arvada Police Department, when he saw a tattoo of what looked like a wolf on Beesley's shoulder.
"So I naturally asked him if that wolf tattoo is because he's in some kind of pack," Tommy said.
No, Beesley said, that was just his dog.
"My first thought was, 'That might be the coolest thing I've ever seen in my life,'" Thome said.
Beesley asked Thome if he had any tattoos of his own, and Thome remembered firing back a witty comment, something like, "You don't put bumper stickers on a Ferrari."
"And that's when I heard [it]," Thome said. "You all know what I'm talking about, that special Gordon laugh ... it was part giggle, part belly laugh, and that's when I knew he just got it. Without saying anything more, we were going to be friends, and we were for over the 18 years that followed."
Arvada Police Chief Link Strate described a "goodness" about Beesley, a trait that stood out so significantly that Strate would ask himself, "Why aren't more people like Gordon?"
Strate recounted the time when Beesley worked as a resource officer at Oberon and a student's mother was worried about her son riding his bike to school by himself.
Beesley offered to arrive early every Tuesday and Thursday and ride with the boy, Micah, to school.
"That was just one of the countless stories of Gordon's service," Strate said.
Jim Burgen, senior pastor at Flatirons Community Church, recalled the memories shared with him about Beesley.
"No one walked away from an encounter with Gordon without feeling special," someone told Burgen.
"If you had the honor of calling Gordon Beesley your husband, or your dad, or your son, or your brother, or your friend," Burgen said, "your life is all the richer for it."
If Beesley was still alive, what would he have told those gathered in his memory on Tuesday?
Burgen had a good idea:
"Go home and love your family better," the pastor said. "Love your wife, dance in the living room, listen to your kids with understanding this time, bring fresh flowers home, play music, drink wine, laugh more, buy a kid a bike, find the balance between order and mercy, and give more grace because we all goof up sometimes. These things happen."