Slain Arvada police Officer Gordon Beesley remembered as goofy, joyous man at funeral
Between the rituals -- the playing of taps, the bagpipes, the presentation of the flag that draped his coffin to his wife and children -- friends, family and coworkers described Beesley as a man who embodied joy and who believed in the importance of silliness.
Arvada police officer Gordon Beesley was a jokester, a dedicated school resource officer, a hippie, a musician, a husband of 18 years and a father to two teenage sons.
Beesley died June 21 after being ambushed from behind by a gunman in Olde Town Arvada who, according to police, wanted to kill Arvada police officers. He was 51.
Hundreds of Colorado law enforcement officers gathered Tuesday at Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette for Beesley’s funeral. It was the second time in three months that officers have gathered there to remember a Colorado police officer killed in the line of duty.
Between the rituals — the playing of taps, the bagpipes, the presentation of the flag that draped his coffin to his wife and children — friends, family and coworkers described Beesley as a man who embodied joy and believed in the importance of silliness.
“He was kind, he was caring, he was humble,” Arvada police chief Link Strate said. “He had a fundamental goodness to him that was so rare.”
Born in Connecticut but raised in New Jersey, Beesley started playing the drums at 8 years old, his sister Amanda said. He played in a punk band in high school named the Grinch Mob. The band’s favorite song to play was a 20-second ode to Schmidt beer.
He was incredibly charming and loved to play good-natured pranks. As a teen, he loved a good party and probably had a few run-ins with police, she said.
“I was always so happy to hear how joyous the life of my joyous brother turned out,” she said.
Beesley attended Carnegie Mellon University for a year before transferring to the University of Colorado Boulder, where he graduated with an English degree.
His friends described him as a goofy man who couldn’t resist making sound effects for even the smallest movements, like pulling a pen out of his pocket. He once proposed a two-week spring break road trip to follow Dread Zeppelin — a Led Zeppelin cover band that played the band’s music in reggae style and featured an Elvis impersonator as the lead singer.
When Beesley started dating his future wife, Karen, he sported a footlong red goatee and rode a black Harley Davidson motorcycle, one family friend said. As they dated, the goatee got shorter.
Beesley and his wife married in 2003 and loved to travel. He was known to randomly take her into the living room for an impromptu dance. Friends called him “the dishwasher” because he was always the one cleaning up at friends’ parties and dinners. He loved creating goofy outfits from Goodwill purchases and sometimes showed up at friends’ houses wearing velour tracksuits.
“He knew how to make the silly sublime,” one college friend said.
Beesley in his first days as an Arvada police officer showed up to the department locker room wearing high-top Converse, short shorts and a tie-dye shirt, Arvada police Sgt. Brian Thome said. Beesley, whom the department called Gordo, blasted rock music anytime he was in the workout room and sang Christmas songs in the style of Elvis when working the Christmas morning patrol shift.
Beesley worked for the department for 19 years. After years on patrol and as a traffic officer, he found his calling as a school resource officer, Strate said.
“I think he hated every time he had to write a traffic ticket for anyone,” Strate said.
Thome and Beesley bonded further after they both became fathers, Thome said. They joked about losing sleep and changing diapers.
“Boys, your dad is in your heart, he’s in your blood and he’s in your mind,” Thome told Beesley’s two sons, seated in the front row of the church.
Their father had already given them the most important gift — an example of how to live a full, loving and giving life, he said.
“No one can ever take that away from you.”