Members of that great organization known as the HPD family always seem to step forward with the ultimate thoughtful gestures when a grieving family member is involved.
Such was the case at the 2008 memorial service for Senior Police Officer Gary Gryder, killed in the line of duty by a drunken driver at the site of an extra job on the Katy Freeway.
According to standard operating procedure, the HPD Honor Guard provides officers who participate in the traditional 21-gun salute in tribute to the fallen officer.
Twenty-one shots result in 21 spent shells. Then-Honor Guard leader David Freytag picked up the shells. Ever-thoughtful, Freytag knew that Gryder’s widow, Debbie, herself a retired HPD officer, would want these special mementos for the family.
Freytag, now retired, has a reputation for acting accordingly in circumstances involving a family’s grief. The job of comforting the surviving family of a fallen officer as he presented a family member – usually the widow – with the Stars and Stripes that had draped the officer’s coffin before burial or entombment.
In this case, Freytag didn’t produce the shells directly to Debbie Gryder – he had other plans. He pulled aside Narcotics Officer Bubba Caldwell, a long-time HPOU board member, and presented them to him for safe-keeping. He knew that Bubba would know what to do.
And he did.
Retired Officer Monte Fogle of Magnolia, a 25-year officer who – as it turned out – spent practically every one of those duty years on night patrol. Fogle retired in 2003. He loved his job but admitted through a smile, now 14 years later, “I was doing so much stuff on the side that work was really getting in my way.”
One might describe this retired member of “the family” as a father, grandfather, singer, framer, eBayer, resale specialist, plumber, electrician, builder and last but certainly not least, a deeply committed Christian compelled to the Lord’s work every day. He and wife Jonie have three grown daughters, two of whom are married to Baptist ministers.
When Fogle is asked for something, someone is about to receive.
Bubba Caldwell knew what to do with the 21 shells. Fogle recalled:
“After Gary died, Bubba wanted to do something (as a memento). He got the shotgun shells from the memorial service. He came to me and said, ‘Can you make a display with them?’ He gave me the shells and a picture and said, ‘Can you come up with something?’ ”
You can guess what happened, given Fogle’s background.
Around the late 1990s he began framing flags and maps, some of them rare, and selling them on eBay. He always grew concerned about mailing the huge items with enough glass to cut through the Post Office bureaucracy if it ever broke.
Fogle graciously constructed a barn wood shadowbox (at no charge, of course), literally planting the shells on the left alongside a picture of the officers involved in the 21-gun salute and, of course, a close-up inset picture of fallen officer Gary Gryder, a devoted husband and father.
“We have this great framed picture of the 21-gun salute with the shotgun casings implanted on the left,” Austin Gryder explained, describing the one-of-a-kind memorial to his dad. “The picture is hanging in the house.”
“It’s a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man,” Debbie Gryder said after supplying the Badge & Gun with snapshot of the special memorial. “We would much rather have him alive and with us, but – ”
Policing is the bedrock of this family and likely will extend into a third generation. Debbie Gryder’s father is renowned HPD officer Alfred B. “Lightning” Lewis, a member of HPD Academy Class No. 6 who retired in 1981 after a storied career. Then came Debbie, a juvenile officer who married the love of her life, Gary Gryder. She was retired when Gary was killed. Now, Austin, the son and grandson of HPD officers, is enrolled at Sam Houston State University closing in on a criminal justice degree. He plans to get a masters degree and is eyeing a law enforcement career.
Fogle, like Freytag and the Gryder-Lewis families, can recite a long list of HPD family experiences. This Lord’s servant pointed out that he will continue to give because of the blessings he’s received from his HPD family.
He joined HPD in Academy Class No. 89 in 1979. Since about that time he and his family have called Magnolia their home. When the first family home burned down in 1985, the officer had a new challenge. He and the family decided to build a custom home consisting of logs imported from Pacific Log Homes in Vancouver, Canada. In addition to Jim Carmichael, the log company owner who supervised construction, Fogle had 10 or 12 officers from Northeast and Northwest participate in the house-raising. He and these guys had pitched in to help others build homes. “I can do electrical and plumbing,” he said. “I can build a house from the ground up.”
“We started rebuilding the current house in May of ’85,” Fogle explained. “That is when the guys from Northeast and Northwest (Patrol) came to help. They spent three days helping me along with a 50-ton crane to put up the logs and roof purlins. My wife and I finished it in June of ‘86.
“For the entire year, I worked nightshift. Every day I got home at 8 a.m., ‘til noon or 1 p.m., got up and worked on the house ‘til about 8 or 9 p.m., got a shower and something to eat and headed back to work at 10 p.m.”
The distinctive home became a unique attraction since Carmichael had no previous “model homes” anywhere in the southwestern United States. When he referred potential customers to the Fogle home, they traveled from Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma to view it on-site. A couple from Clear Lake City saw it and was so impressed with the neighborhood that they built their log house near the Fogles. Now Carmichael can claim two model homes in the same neighborhood.
The Fogle family consists of Joni, three daughters and their husbands. And they are, in chronological order, Rachel, married to Jesse Hardy; Rainey married to Seth Westmoreland; and Rica, married to Stephen Allison. Jesse and Seth are both assistant pastors at the First Baptist Church of Magnolia. Stephen is a superintendant at a commercial construction company.
You might get the impression that the Fogle family is deeply involved in the Lord’s work. And you would be correct.
Retired Officer Fogle and he and Joni were Young Life sponsors for 13 years. Active in their church, they have hosted many Christian-oriented events. Fogle has actively led a healing/mentoring ministry that spotlights “the miracles of the Lord,” both in Magnolia and throughout the world.
Monte Fogle projects the same determination while doing the Lord’s work and other “family business” as he once did working night patrol for HPD. He speaks assuredly – as if to say he’s willing to keep building onward and upward, whether it’s a special frame of memories for special people or a home from the ground up.