PAL recognizes a special veteran serving PAL since 1953
FAIRFIELD, CT – May 2015:
As Fairfield prepares to honor our veterans on Memorial Day, The Fairfield Police Athletic Leagues (PAL) plans to recognize one very special veteran. Following his honorable discharge after service in the U.S. Army which included combat deployment to Korea, Fairfield native son Frank Onder returned home and joined the Fairfield Police Department in 1953.
Shortly after joining the department, Frank got involved with a fledgling organization that would become the Fairfield PAL. His involvement on the PAL Board of Directors has lasted 62 years and is still going strong. He has been the Treasurer for the past 33 years.
Frank and his wife, Marion, raised their three daughters in Fairfield and they all participated in PAL activities as they grew up. Over the years, Frank has seen PAL activities change along with the interests of the kids in town and the facilities that were available.
The activities and events that PAL offers have changed over the years along with the interests of the kids in town. Early on, PAL activities were limited to sponsoring teams in leagues such as Little League and Babe Ruth baseball, running a bowling program, and coordinating the school crossing guards. The first annual Trout Fishing Derby was organized by Pat Carroll and Nick Fingelly and was held at Gould Manor Park in 1965. It has been an annual rite of Spring ever since.
In 1966, the “PAL Building” opened on One Rod Highway in what had been one of the NIKE defense buildings. Having a real home allowed PAL to offer in-house programs and expand the type of activities it could offer to the kids in town. The rifle range was built and the Rifle Club was formed. The building was also home base for the Marching Band and Baton Twirling groups, and special interest clubs like sewing, stamp collecting, bicycle repairs, weight lifting, and trading card collecting. Mrs. Jeanne Harrison and other volunteer instructors offered arts and crafts instruction for many years.
For several decades, the PAL building was home to just about any activity that kids were interested in. Also, every summer saw the PAL Field Day at Sturges Park. Games, races, contests and awards filled the day with fun and reinforced the bond between kids and their local police officers. The pie-eating contest was the highlight of the day. Unfortunately, the PAL Building had to be demolished to make room for the expansion of the town’s waste treatment plant so most of the “inside” activities have been suspended until a new home is found.
As if his involvement with the PAL was not enough, Frank found time to be a founder and coach of the Fairfield Little League Baseball and the Fairfield Junior Pro Basketball program, which was later taken over by Wakeman Boys Club.
Frank and Marion will ride behind the Police Color guard in the Memorial Day Parade this year. Be sure to give them a salute in appreciation of their service to our country and our town.