03/04/11 — Mount Olive honors Schroeder on his retirement

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Mount Olive honors Schroeder on his retirement

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 4, 2011 1:46 PM

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Nelson Bland

Ralph Schroeder, right, who retired Monday after 32 years with the Mount Olive Police Department gives a pair of bedroom shoes to his wife, Brenda, during a Thursday reception in his honor. Some 20 years Schroeder in a rush to reach a crime scene dressed in the dark and unintentionally put on his wife's bedroom shoes. In front are their daughter-in-law, Shanda, and her son, Landon.

MOUNT OLIVE -- Brenda Schroeder finally got a new pair of bedroom shoes from her husband, Ralph, and it only took him 20 years and his retirement.

Schroeder gave her the shoes and she gave him a kiss Thursday as he shared the story behind the shoes with the more than 100 people who were at the town's old depot to honor him on his retirement.

Schroeder, 54, retired Monday after 32 years with the Mount Olive Police Department, the last three and half as chief.

The audience at the reception included family, friends and fellow law enforcement officers, including former Mount Olive chiefs Emmett Ballree and John Hodges.

"Emmett had a call over on Oliver Street -- a man with a knife," Schroeder recalled. "He is fighting the man with the knife and he called for backup and his partner was out of town. So I grabbed a pair of shorts and threw them on. I reach in the closet and grab a pair of shoes and throw them on. It was dark. I was trying not to wake Brenda up.

"I grabbed those shoes. I got there and we wound up fighting the guy and getting him under control. Emmett looked down said, 'Ralph what in the hell kind of shoes are you wearing?' I looked down and I had on Brenda's bedroom shoes. So I had to replace the bedroom shoes and it only took me 20 years."

Schroeder, a native of Lorain, Ohio, said he enjoyed his years with town and that it felt good to have his family at the event.

He and his wife, the former Brenda Best, have a daughter, Heather Schroeder, and two sons, Patrick and Robert "Bobby." Patrick and his wife, Shanda, have a son, Landon, 2, and are expecting their second child.

"It was nice," Schroeder said "I was really glad my family could be here. Tomorrow (Friday) we get a new granddaughter. They are going to do a C section in the morning."

Schroeder was presented with his service weapon and a shadow box with badges of all of the ranks he has held with the department. His chief's badge was affixed to a plaque given in appreciation of his service. He also was given a large framed photo of him and his officers.

He said he plans to remain busy and his new boss, Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders, as well as Duplin County Sheriff Blake Wallace were in attendance. Schroeder will be working part-time for Winder's office.

However, Schroeder said he wasn't sure if he would use the Rat-L-Trap fishing lure his officers had given him. They also gave him a rod and reel.

Several years ago Schroeder and several officers went fishing together.

"While we were fishing I slung a Rat-L-Trap and started pulling it in and when I yanked it, it got caught in my leg," he said. "I had to go to Family Medicine to get it taken out. So they gave me a fishing lure that said 'Rattlin' Ralph' on it."

Town Manager Charles Brown said the large crowd at the reception demonstrated how well thought of Schroeder is in the community.

"We just wanted to thank him for everything that he has done for the town," Brown said. "He has literally fought for 32 years to keep the town of Mount Olive safe and its citizens. He is respected by everybody in town, respected by the people who worked with him and for him and respected by the people on the street, too."

Ballree, who was with the Mount Olive Police Department force for 22 years and was chief prior to Schroeder, is now chief at Boiling Springs Lake.

"He was like my training officer," Ballree said. "He was also above me in rank, but after 10 or 12 years and turnover, the two or three of us who stayed there became so close that it was more like we were partners. When they named me acting chief and then later chief, of course Ralph was my second in command. Even then, the relationship was still the same.

"I was his mentor when it came to administrative duties and the political side of things, but he was my go-to man to run the department. The day-to-day putting the men on the street kind of thing, he took care of that. We always had a great relationship. I will never forget the day that I resigned from Mount Olive. As I walked out the last thing I said to Charles, I said, 'The city will be crazy as hell if they don't give Ralph a shot at this because he deserves it.' He has earned it and he did a good job."

Ballree said he was surprised by the news of Schroeder's retirement.

"For 20 years I have said we would tote Ralph out feet first out of the police department," he said. "He has surprised all of us, but I am happy for him.

"I hope he will take some time and enjoy himself and spend time with his family and enjoy his retirement."