By DAVID GREEN
Morenci police officer Frank Cordts wasn’t too keen on the idea of a retirement party, but he got one anyway.
“Frank, we’re having a reception,” police chief Larry Weeks told his veteran officer recently. “I hope you show up.”
Cordts was there and so were dozens of family members, friends and area residents who gathered to honor Cordts upon his retirement from the squad.
Cordts did it all and saw it all during his four decades with the police department, starting off in 1972 as a part-time officer and serving as chief for many years.
City council member Tracy Schell welcomed the crowd of well-wishers Thursday night at the Legion home.
“We really appreciate all the time and great work that you put in for the city of Morenci,” she said. “It’s very appreciated.”
Weeks said that he promised to keep the evening low key, but added, “I truly want to honor Frank’s years of service that he’s put in.
“I’ve been in law enforcement for about 22 years and know that it’s a very difficult and challenging job,” Weeks said.
Events transpire that leave scars of varying kinds, from physical to emotional.
“To have done this job for 40 years, with the pressures it presents, is really an amazing feat,” Weeks said. “I hope you give pause and think about what it takes to work in this job for as long as Frank did.”
Police officers are often thought of as tough guys working in tough situations, said administrator/city clerk Renée Schroeder, but she told about another facet of the policeman.
“One January—the coldest day of the winter and with a huge snowstorm—Frank walked in with a tiny little kitten that he found in a snowbank and said, ‘We’ve got to do something with this little guy.’”
After it hung around city hall for a couple of days, Frank found a good home for the cat.
“I’ve seen the soft side of Frank,” Schroeder said, “and I wish him a very, very happy retirement.”
After the reception, Morenci mayor Keith Pennington added his thanks, saying, “the measure of a police officer is rarely known until there is a call for help. I am pleased every time I get a good report from a citizen extolling the way Frank handled the situation, and there have been many.”
“For that type of service,” the mayor said, “the community thanks him.”
Chief Weeks told Cordts that he appreciates the opportunity to have worked with him during the past decade, and added, “and I appreciate calling you a friend.”
Cordts told the crowd that he never expected such a turnout of people.
“I thank you for supporting me over the years and I thank you for being here tonight,” he said. “It means a lot to me.”
He may be leaving the police force, he said, but he will continue being a friend and family member as he has for the past 40 years.
Citizen of the Year
First, let me say I am honored to receive the nomination for the Citizen of the Year. It makes me and my family proud that I am being recognized for my many years of commitment and service to my community.
How did you end up in Morenci?
I graduated from Pittsford High School in 1968 and went to work at M&S Manufacturing Co. in Hudson. In May of 1969 I was laid off and transferred to Morenci. I didn’t like the 18-mile drive, so in August of 1969 I moved to Morenci and I have been here ever since.
List three things you really like about Morenci.
Morenci is caring, friendly and has nearly everything a person needs.
In what ways have you seen Morenci change over the years?
Over the years I have seen many changes in Morenci including a loss of industry. When I moved here there were nine full-service gas stations, five bars, three hardware stores, a lumber yard, a mill, two grocery stores, a meat market, a Ma & Pa grocery, party stores, a furniture store and a clothing store. Everything a person needed was here. That has since been swallowed up by the big chain stores, and what a shame.
List some of your contributions to the community.
In 1972 I joined the Morenci Police Department. At that time, I set a goal of working for the department for 40 years and have just complete that. I have given of myself through thick and thin and I am proud of my contribution to Morenci.
Describe your most difficult day on the job or any difficult day.
I had some tough days, the most difficult being two fatal house fires in recent years. Those took a heavy emotional strain on me that I will carry with me the rest of my life.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
I was rewarded every time I went to work and was able to, in some way, give someone I came in contact with a better outlook on their day.
Who are your family members?
I am blessed with my family. They include a son, Christopher Cordts and his wife and three children in Morenci; a son, Allen and his wife and three children in Warren, Mich.; and my fiancée, Melinda Shirley and her daughter, Cabria. I am the youngest of 12 children and I have my extended family—the wonderful citizens of Morenci.
If you had your life to live over, what would you do differently?
Absolutely nothing. From where I came from and my deprived childhood, I am finally very satisfied with my life and my accomplishments.