Two respected South Florida police veterans with much in common died early in 2013: Gary Minium, who retired as a major from the Miami-Dade Police Department in 1993, and Bill Davis, who spent 27 years with the Miami Beach department then retired in 2004 from a federal task force.
Both had been U.S. Marines guarding U.S. embassies abroad. Both came from police families: one the son of a cop, the other a cop’s dad.
Both died in their 70s during their birth month, of heart failure: Minium on Jan. 5 near his home in Dunellon, Davis at his home on Key Biscayne on Jan. 4.
Minium was born on Jan. 7, 1940, in Cambridge, Pa., and was two days from turning 73. His father was the late, much-admired Det. Robert L. “Pappy’’ Minium.
Gary Minium, who had a history of cardiac problems, apparently suffered a heart attack behind the wheel and died after his car hit a sign, said daughter Denise Bryant, of West Palm Beach.
William Davis was born Jan. 29, 1935 in New York City, was about to turn 78, and undergo heart surgery.
One of his sons is Surfside Sgt. John S. Davis.
Minium joined the Marines as a teenager in 1957, after attending North Miami Senior High, where he met his future wife, Sharon Wright.
He served until 1962, including gunnery duty in Lebanon and a stint guarding the U.S. embassy in Chile, his daughter said.
He went straight to the county police department, where his 31-year career included homicide and undercover narcotics.
His daughter remembers him looking like “a hippie’’ to blend in, and sometimes not coming home for days.
John Rivera, Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association president, worked with Minium at the Intercostal station.
“As a major, what was unique about him was that at all times of the day and night, he’d come out and join the troops, even just on routine stuff. He’d go out at 3 a.m. and patrol the streets.’’
He kept his Marine bearing, said Rivera, “and if you were lazy or indecisive, you were not going to get along with him...You had to be squared away and willing to make a decision. He was very demanding of his troops, but led by example.’’
His dad, “Pappy’’ Minium, “was a legend. That man could have run for major and won, he was that popular. He had every connection in the world. The go-to guy. There wasn’t a thing that happened that he didn’t resolve.’’
He died in 2010.
Gary’s nickname was “Crazy Eyes,’’ said retired Sgt. David Rivers, now of Leesburg, who worked with Minium in the Warrants and Homicide bureaus, because of his intense, unnerving stare.
“He had a way of opening his eyes really wide when in jest or anger,’’ said Rivers. “At one point I had a plastic skull with red marbles for eyes’’ as a Crazy Eyes mascot.
“I got phenomenal butt chewings from that man. He had a crooked right index finger, and we used to joke that it had buckled from poking so many people in the chest. But he was a leader: gruff, with a heart of gold. And he put a lot of bad guys in jail.’’
At home, said daughter Denise, “he was our go-to guy for everything. Gentle, but he expected us to do the right thing. He didn’t tolerate disrespect.’’