CLEARWATER — It has been 33 years since former Clearwater police Chief Frank Daniels left the department and moved on to other endeavors, including a run for Pinellas County sheriff and a business career.
But many still remember him as a policeman.
"Any time I would see him, he was always chief," said former Deputy Chief Dewey Williams, whom Daniels hired in 1977. "I always had great respect for him."
On Sunday, Daniels died in hospice care at the Oak Manor Senior Living Community in Largo. He was 85.
"He was a chief that was very well-liked by his men," said Paul Maser, hired by Daniels in 1974 and later promoted to deputy chief. "He knew who you were and always went out of his way to talk to you."
Mike Bruscell, who worked as an officer under Daniels, said Daniels was a role model for him as he took on police chief roles in two cities in Palm Beach County.
"He was a man of great integrity, great honesty," Bruscell said. "He was a professional, kind of before professionalism became the 'in' thing in police work."
Daniels was born in Lake Wales on Nov. 29, 1927. He served in the U.S. Army for three years before becoming a Clearwater police patrolman in January 1949, according to the department's website.
He swiftly moved up the ranks. In 1950, Daniels was promoted to sergeant, followed by captain. In 1968, he was selected as police chief. In 1979, then-City Manager Tony Shoemaker said Daniels was "the most outstanding police chief I have had the pleasure of knowing."
During his tenure as chief, he reorganized the department into administration, services and operations divisions. He launched a victim-assistance program.
In 1980, after 12 years as police chief, Daniels retired to run for Pinellas County sheriff as a Democrat.
"He has proved that he possesses the administrative and managerial skills to perform the job he seeks," read a St. Petersburg Times editorial recommendation for Daniels.
But Gerard A. "Gerry" Coleman was elected sheriff. Daniels ventured into the private sector, at one point becoming the director of business development for Clearwater Beach Bank.
"You hope you've done something right," Daniels told the Times in January 1979, adding that his family "has been very supportive."
His son Charles Daniels, 59, remembers his father often told him and his older brother, Brian, to stay in school and play sports.
"He was always there for us," Charles said.
Daniels' sons also chose careers in public safety. Charles was a Clearwater firefighter for 22 years. Brian Daniels, 62, worked at the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office for 10 years before becoming an assistant state attorney. He retired last year.
Daniels was married to his wife, Frances, for about 50 years, Charles said. She died three years ago at the age of 82.
Daniels is survived by his sons, five grandchildren and a 2-month-old great-grandson.
"He'll be greatly missed," Charles Daniels said.
Times staff researcher Natalie A. Watson contributed to this report. Laura Morel can be reached at (727) 445-4157 or [email protected]