He underwent quintuple bypass surgery after suffering a heart attack several years ago, but continued to raise and breed horses and train riding aficionados at his Triple T Ranch in Lakeside until about a year ago.
"He didn't go anywhere without his western boots, belt buckle and the horseshoe ring on his finger," said Jill Ogilvie, a friend and former police colleague. "Larry was well known as one of the area's premier cowboys and teachers. If you wanted to learn team penning (a cow-herding competition) or roping, you went to Larry."
At about 6 feet 4 and 225 pounds, Mr. Triplett was a commanding presence on horseback and on his various police beats. He had worked for a while as a detective but preferred patrol, either on horseback or in a police car, friends said.
"He didn't have to say much," Ogilvie said. "He was a doer. The best thing you can say about an officer, the extreme compliment, is that he is a good cover. That was Larry – and everybody knew it."
Retired San Diego police Lt. Bob Jones supervised Mr. Triplett in the street patrol and mounted divisions. "Larry was a take-charge officer who could handle any situation that arose," Jones said.
During the last year of his law enforcement career, Mr. Triplett fulfilled a dream by working in the same patrol division as his son, Larry Triplett Jr.
"He arranged to be in a two-man car in the Western Division with his son," said David Ogilvie, a longtime friend and former police colleague.
Within a year of retiring, Mr. Triplett suffered a heart attack. As his condition deteriorated over the years, he was placed on a list for heart transplant recipients.
"About eight months ago, he was taken off the list because they couldn't find a donor who corresponded with his size," Linda Ogilvie said.
For many years, after a full week of police work, Mr. Triplett would drive to horse shows on weekends as far away as Oklahoma City.
"Friday afternoon, his trailer would be loaded with horses," David Ogilvie said. "He would drive it straight through to Oklahoma City, 22½ hours, then come back in time for work on Monday."
Closer to home, Mr. Triplett won state and regional championships in showing halter horses, including an annual high-point award in California.
"Pretty much from March through October or November, he competed every weekend," David Ogilvie said.
If Mr. Triplett wasn't competing in Oklahoma City or California, you could find him in Arizona or New Mexico. On weekends at home, he often invited his friends from the horse community to his ranch for riding and a barbecue.
Mr. Triplett, a native of Ponca City, Okla., grew up in a horse environment. He made sure his children did the same after buying his Lakeside property in the early 1970s.
Before launching his law enforcement career in 1968, Mr. Triplett served in the Navy and worked as a long-haul trucker.
In addition to his police work, he served as assistant security chief at the annual Miss Lakeside Pageant.
Survivors include his wife, Joyce; daughters, Deborah Fetty, Judith Cromwell and Kelly Triplett, all of Lakeside; son, Larry Triplett Jr. of Lakeside; and four grandchildren.
April 27, 2004
He was a horseman at heart, a tall-in-the-saddle cowboy to whom riding, roping and herding cattle was a way of life.
It was Larry Triplett Sr.'s passion for horses that prompted him in 1975 to submit a proposal to his employer, the San Diego Police Department, to revive a mounted patrol that had been discontinued in 1948.
When the Police Department overcame budget constraints to adopt the program in March 1983, Mr. Triplett applied his equestrian expertise in training the officers and horses to make it a success.
By 1985, the mounted patrol had moved into a modular barn built by the city in the Gold Gulch area of Balboa Park and doubled the amount of daily patrol time to 6½ hour.
Mr. Triplett, who took an early retirement in 1991 after 23 years on the force, died of heart failure April 21 at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. He was 62.