For nearly two decades, Deputy Jim Castro has been a fixture in Malibu. You could see him patrolling the streets, talking to community members and sharing a laugh with his extra-wide smile—and even playing on the local tennis courts. But he suddenly disappeared, because life changed for Castro last year on April 29 when his wife Connie suffered an aneurism.
Since that terrible day, Castro has devoted his time to the recovery of Connie, who has made remarkable progress.
"It's a miracle," Castro said. "If it wasn't for everyone's thoughts and prayers and the man upstairs and me working with her, this couldn't have happened. All the experts said she wasn't supposed to walk, talk and eat, and she is doing all of that."
The recovery effort is ongoing, and Castro was forced to retire much earlier than he ever expected so he could devote his full attention to Connie. About 40 people were at Thursday afternoon to show their appreciation for the veteran deputy.
"The difference he has made in the lives of so many people is tremendous," Howdy's owner Howdy Kabrins told the large crowd. "Jim, to me, is one of the real heroes in Malibu. And I just wanted to let you guys know how much he means to us."
Castro then said, "I loved working out here. It went both ways. What I got, I gave. But now, I'm on a different mission to take care of Connie and help her with her recovery."
He worked for 17 years at the Malibu/Lost Hill Sheriff's Station, 16 of them as Malibu's special assignment deputy. Castro told Malibu Patch there are many things he will miss about the job.
"They talk about the brotherhood, and it's true, we really are a family," Castro said. "I'll miss having that extended family. I'm going to miss everything. I'm going to miss helping people, driving the company car, everything about it."
His interview with Patch was interrupted several times as people approached Castro, showing their appreciation, letting him know that just because he is retired, it doesn't mean he should be a stranger to the community. Castro said that is not going to happen.
"I've got a lot of friends out here," he said. "Connie likes to do shopping and I play tennis. I'll be around."