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September 10, 2013 > What's in a name?

What's in a name?

For the new Robert Wasserman Fremont Police Center, the short version would be - fortitude, honesty and integrity. But there is much more to the story...

When 18 year old Mary Linda Galantine, working at the switchboard of the City of Montebello, had any interaction with the "older" (age 24) Juvenile Officer, she says, "he would get me all fluttered." Bob Wasserman swept his future bride off her feet and they married in 1958 even though the combination of his Jewish background and her Catholic family was controversial in those days. Flaunting traditional barriers was nothing new for the young man since Bob had battled asthma as a child, signed up for the National Guard in high school, then joined the military at age 15 to serve as a Military Policeman in Japan and Korea. He turned age 16 in Japan and observed his 17th and 18th birthdays in Korea. As a result of his experiences, Linda says, "He matured very young."

A man of character, fortitude, integrity and honor, Bob Wasserman epitomized the Yiddish term "mensch." He lived a life of purpose and service that extended to his family, community and humankind. His honesty and integrity were always beyond question. For example, while serving in Korea, Bob twisted his ankle playing basketball and was treated at an infirmary. During his treatment, a general visited, awarding all injured in a battle zone, including Bob, the "purple heart" medal. Honesty prevailed and Bob returned it.

"Bob always had a genuine respect for people," says Linda. "He overcame adversity and bigotry through his intellect; he was always the top performer so it was pretty hard to disregard his efforts. He was focused on achieving his goals." When he returned from military service without a high school diploma, Bob focused on a career in law enforcement and regained lost momentum in education. He studied to receive a California High School Equivalency Certificate and then attended LA City College, graduated from Los Angeles State College with a degree in Law Enforcement Administration and received a Masters degree from the University of Southern California in Public Administration. "He always was pushing himself, whether in his career, his education or whatever," says Linda. "He truly felt he could make a difference as a police chief."

Wasserman's career path brought him through the ranks and specialties of police work in Montebello, then on to San Carlos, Brea/Yorba Linda and Fremont as Chief of Police. During that time, he and Linda raised a family including two children, Dan and Jill, and tried not to allow police work to intrude on family life. However, police work does intrude on personal life. Linda recalls some fearful times when the infamous Zodiac Killer was active and other periods as respect for law enforcement waxed and waned. "I remember when we lived in San Carlos and our son came home from school very upset because a classmate said his father was 'the fuzz.' Indignant, he replied that his father was not 'fuzzy!'

"Bob never 'hardened' as a police officer," says Linda. He loved sports and playing cards; outlets to put the police work aside and relax. His kids always thought of their father as a "regular guy" who, did not always have to be right. If shown a better way, he would accept that. Even in his later years when illness wracked his body, Bob's character remained steady.

When Linda and Bob moved to Fremont, the city was young. Linda says, "I loved the rural aspects of Fremont." The Wasserman family and City of Fremont grew together with mutual affection. As with other moves, the family easily adapted to their new surroundings. Social connections at the Police Department and Mission San Jose Rotary Club became lifelong friendships. Linda was also an active participant in community activities such as Meals on Wheels.

Bob received many forms of recognition in his profession, but was especially proud of his appointment by the Governor of California to the Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) and federal Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). He also served as president of the California Peace Officers' Association. Among many accolades, Bob received a commendation for outstanding public service by resolution of the California Senate and the Law Enforcement Executive of the Year Award, a prestigious award given to only one law enforcement executive in the State of California each year.

Those who knew and worked with Bob during his career in law enforcement echo the accolades he received.

Steve Clark, Fremont Police Department Lieutenant (ret.) who worked with him for 16 years says, "He was the wisest man I have ever known. He had great intuition and fairness in dealing with all members of the Department and Community. He was one of a kind!"

Keith Jackson, Fremont Police Department Captain (ret.) who also worked with Bob during those years, notes that Chief Wasserman "was one of the brightest, most articulate, honest and forward thinking individuals I have every met. Integrity was something he not only cherished, but embraced daily." With a chuckle, he remembers an incident at the old Police Building. A gas pump was located at the rear of the building. On a rare occasion, someone would forget to remove the hose from a police car before driving off, resulting in the need for repair. Although a minor infraction, a reprimand was placed in the personnel file of those who were at fault. Once, Bob was distracted and inadvertently drove off with gas hose firmly attached. Faced with the same infraction, Chief of Police Wasserman went back to his office, dictated a reprimand for himself and sent it to the City Manager to be placed in his own personnel file!

Following retirement from the Fremont Police Department, Bob was twice appointed as interim Police Chief for the City of Tracy while they searched for a permanent replacement. He remained a committed citizen of Fremont, serving as a councilmember from 1992 until 2004 when elected mayor. His strong presence and character "brought harmony" to City politics during a critical time in the Tri City area. He knew that a solid infrastructure, including basic services for citizens, would allow a calm and reasonable approach to future challenges.

Robert Wasserman passed away December 29, 2011 but leaves a legacy of strength, character and integrity for the future of our region. As his name is inscribed on the Fremont Police Building that includes many innovative design features incorporated at his direction - natural lighting for work spaces and room for expansion and changing police personnel demographics - it is a fitting honor for an outstanding iconic representation of what the City hopes to achieve: a solid foundation looking toward a flexible future filled with high hopes and aspirations.

Dedication of Robert Wasserman Fremont Police Center
Friday, Sept 13
4 p.m.
2000 Stevenson Blvd., Fremont
(510) 790-6800
Reception to follow in lobby of building

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