BUCKHANNON – The City of Buckhannon’s third annual Webb Grubb Police Officer Recognition Day honored Chief Fred Gaudet, who served as a mentor to current city police chief Matt Gregory.
Mayor David McCauley said the annual event was named after Officer Webb Grubb, the only Buckhannon city police officer to die in the line of duty April 21, 1940.
“We are very pleased to honor all members of our police officer community during National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day, which is today and National Police Week that runs from May 12 through18,” McCauley said. “It is most fitting that we again honor and pay formal tribute to our only city police officer ever to die in the line of duty, Officer Wilbert H. ‘Webb’ Grubb.”
The annual event honored Police Chief Fredrick Matthew “Fred” Gaudet who passed away in November 1999.
“As police officers go, Fred was a Hall of Famer,” McCauley said. “Fred was a great friend to so many of us. He was the consummate professional, who made our Buckhannon PD better, and as Sheriff of Upshur County, he made us better. He helped make our community safer and better. What better legacy could a hero leave? We still miss Fred.”
Chief of the Buckhannon Police Department Matt Gregory said Gaudet was his mentor.
“Fred actually hired me to this agency many years ago, so I have a lot of fond memories of him,” Gregory said. “You’re a lucky person, if on the pathway of life, you encounter someone who guides you and inspires you enough for them to be called a mentor, and it’s truly a wonderful thing to have someone to look up to. One of those people to me was Fred Gaudet.”
Lt. Mark Davis with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department recalled the first time he met Gaudet, during a job interview.
“When I was 23 years old, I sat across the desk from Fred Gaudet in the sheriff’s office, we had interviewed for the job of a corrections officer and after Fred finished the interview he said, ‘Mark I’m going to take a chance on you, but I don’t think you’ll ever stay, you’re just too young,’” Davis recalled.
“He said, ‘I’ll get you trained, and I know you’ll just move on somewhere else.’ I looked at him and said ‘Sheriff, if you hire me for this job, I promise you I will retire from this department.’ Fred just sit back in his chair like he used to and he just laughed great big like only Fred could, and he said ‘well, we’ll just have to see.”
Gregory also remembered when he first met Gaudet.
“One of my earliest memories of Fred was in he was when he was sheriff of Upshur County,” Gregory said. “He would come to school and talk about police officers and safety and how, as a young boy, I would stare wide-eyed at him and be enthralled about everything he had to say. From that point on, I knew I wanted to be just like him – that I wanted to be a police officer myself.”
During the event, the city also dedicated its “Wall of Blue” – a tribute to Officer Webb Grubb, retired Lt. Keith Rowan, Chief Fred Gaudet and all future honorees of the Annual Webb Grubb Police Officer Recognition Day.
“Our Wall of Blue shall be a permanent tribute to all of our community’s police officers who selflessly serve and protect us every shift,” McCauley said.