More than 180 people, including a who’s who in the city, state representatives, friends and family, turned out at Klemmer’s Banquet Center in Greenfield on Thursday to celebrate Springob’s retirement.
But when given the chance to address those in attendance, Springob displayed the modesty that led him to be one of the most respected men in the city’s storied history.
“As police chief, if there were any errors or omissions, if there were any failures of the department, I’m the one that’s responsible for the past 17 years and I accept that responsibility,” Springob said. “For any other of the numerous, numerous achievements, that’s all due to the exceptional personnel, the people that we call the Greenfield Police Department.”
Throughout the evening, the program’s master of ceremonies, Interim Chief Brad Wentlandt and others injected plenty of humor among compliments aimed at Springob.
The former chief was chided for his lengthy conversations, his “world-class” mustache, his love for gadgets, guns and gizmos and even his propensity to hug at the police station.
And of course his age.
“I was born six months after Frank started with the Greenfield Police Department,” Wentlandt said.
During a career that spanned parts of six different decades, Springob received many accolades from the city, state and country. Many more came pouring in Thursday.
United States Senator Herb Kohl read into record of the 112th Congress a senatorial proclamation honoring Springob, which read, “His encyclopedic knowledge of law enforcement and the history of his city helped ensure that the people of Greenfield received a special brand of policing, one that focused on above all else on helping people.”
At Thursday’s celebration, the National Rifle Association, the Greenfield Police and Fire Commission, the City of Greenfield, the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County also honored Springob, as did many others.
A congressional citation from U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan and one from Governor Scott Walker were also on display.
Milwaukee County 11th District Supervisor Mark Borkowski, after joking that Springob’s office looked like a spy museum, spoke of Springob’s legacy.
“If there was a dictionary of phrases that said ‘dedicated public servant, I think you’d see Frank’s picture there,” Borkowski said. “That says it all.”
Said State Representative Peggy Krusick, “Frank symbolizes the greatness of serving others in his capacity as police chief and his capacity as a friend.”
Some of the evening’s more touching moments came late in the program. Inspector Mark Wildish, who worked with the former chief for more than 40 years, presented Springob with his service weapon engraved with his years of service and an outline of his badge.
And Springob’s sons, Steve and Scott, presented their father with his badge.
“I can call you pop now instead of chief,” said Steve Springob, who has been a Greenfield police officer for seven years. “Thank you for giving me the calling to law enforcement, the job I love. … I enjoyed all the days I spent with you at the department. I’m going to miss that.”
In addition, a donation was made in Springob’s name to the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial.
The former chief was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and appreciation of the evening. He praised the members of his department, endorsed Wentlandt as his permanent replacement and gave gifts of thanks to his administrative assistant Barb Piotrowski.
Springob also thanked his family, including his wife Helen, and his sons, for their years of support and understanding.
“Anybody involved in law enforcement knows it truly is a family affair,” he said. “My hat goes off to all of the spouses of our law enforcement practitioners for the aid, comfort and support you provide to your spouse. It’s very, very important.”
Frank and Helen Springob celebrate their 41st wedding anniversary Aug. 8.