On February 22, 1928 the Placer County Sheriff’s Department lost one of its most famous law men when Deputy Frank H. “Big Dip” Dependener was killed in a traffic accident, returning from a raid on an illegal liquor operation in the Roseville area. The vehicle in which “Big Dip” was a passenger collided with another vehicle and rolled down a twenty-five foot embankment, coming to rest upside down. “Big Dip” suffered a broken neck and died instantly. Placer County Sheriff Elmer Gum, also a passenger in the vehicle suffered major injuries but survived.
“Big Dips” funeral was one of the largest ever held in Placer County and was attended by individuals from all over the State.
A friend and colleague, Sacramento Police Captain Ed Brown described him as “one of the best known, best liked and most feared men in public service”.
At six-feet, seven inches, “Big Dip” was the tallest man in the County, and his imposing size and sheer strength were qualifications enough for being appointed a Deputy Sheriff in 1891 when he was just 21. He stayed on as a deputy for the next 37 years, through the administration of four Sheriff’s.
The media of the times observed “for more than a third of a century, F. H. Dependener was identified with police activities in Placer County. During that time he was shot at many times, and hit, cut at many times, and cut, struck at many times, and struck, but he always came back”.
“Big Dip” was never far from the action himself, and never afraid to wade into trouble. After his death, the Auburn Journal reported “Dependener was said to have been wounded at least seven times by bullets, and to have borne about thirty marks inflicted by hostile criminals with weapons of various kinds”
When “Big Dips” wife died in 1904, having reservations about being a single parent, he sent his two daughters, Beatrice and Mignon to live with a local resident, Mrs. E. Richenmacher. He provided for their support and education until they were grown.
During the long and illustrious career of this great law man, if a crime of any consequence occurred in Placer County, you would almost have to assume that “Big Dip” would be involved.
The Texas Rangers pride themselves in sending one Texas Ranger to handle one riot. The Placer County Sheriff’s Department had their own “one man gang”, Deputy Frank H. “Big Dip: Dependener.