When El Segundo Police Chief J. Clark Devilbiss decided to retire last December and become a professional masseur, eyebrows were raised.
But now, "some of the people who probably poked fun of the policeman-turned-masseur are regulars at the clinic here in Manhattan Beach," the 56-year-old Devilbiss said.
"People seemed a little bit surprised at first but those people didn't really know me or didn't realize that I am kind of a physical person."
Devilbiss was a 29-year-veteran on the force, the last two as chief. He rose through the ranks, becoming an administrative assistant to then-Chief Thomas DeBerry in 1967 before being promoted to captain in 1967 and to chief in 1983.
His previous plan to retire after 30 years and enter the private security field changed after the death of his sister in 1985.
"I've always wanted to do a lot of things outside of law enforcement," Devilbiss said at the time of his retirement. "My sister's death made me realize life is too short not to do what you want to do."
So with the blessing of his wife, Patricia, and their three grown children, Devilbiss followed his heart's desire.
"There is nothing like a good massage to move the blood all around, relax the muscles and make someone feel good after a good workout or a hard day's work," he said just before leaving the force.
Devilbiss, who completed a three-month course in massage technique at the Institute of Psycho-Structural Balancing in Santa Monica, manages the massage clinic at the Manhattan Athletic Club for Men.
A longtime fitness enthusiast, Devilbiss said he used to have massages once or twice a week to help ease job-related stress.
"At some point I realized that massage could help a lot of people and decided to pursue it as a second career.
"I knew people would talk but I figured life was too short not to do what you want to do. I feel good about what I am doing and people are still talking, except now they are saying things like 'Gee, Clark, you must have heaters in your hands.' "