LOS BANOS, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Hundreds of people crowded into the exhibitor’s hall at the Los Banos Fairgrounds to pay tribute to Livingston Police Chief Charles Hale who died suddenly at the age of 46 last week.

While friends and family offered prayers and salutes

His high school sweetheart and wife Amanda says she will stay strong for their two children he left behind.

“Living without you was never an option but I will give it my all, and try to honor you in your memory and every single day trying to make you proud,” said Amanda Hale.

Charles Hale who went by Chuck dedicated his life to serving his community.

He served a 28-year career in law enforcement.

After graduating from Los Banos High School he became an officer with the Los Banos Police Department.

He then traded his blue uniform for the green and tan of the Merced County Sheriff’s Office where he spent most of his career.

In the department, Hale worked as a detective for major crime and more recently as a lieutenant.

Before leaving the sheriff’s office and becoming Police Chief of the Livingston Police Department

Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke says he meet Hale when he was just 14 years old.

Although Chief Hale and Sheriff Warnke no longer wore the same colors, the two remained close.

“When he became police chief I was getting calls at all hours cause he knew I would answer the phone for him. He literally would ask what I would do and you know the way the sheriff does it and the chief does it are two different ways. But he took some of the knowledge with him and started a successful venue within the city of Livingston,” said Sheriff Vern Warnke.

After the service, it was time to say goodbye.

“I’m sorry for the community, I’m sorry for law enforcement but God got a good one,” said Sheriff Warnke.