Congratulations to all of the award recipients at last month’s City Awards Banquet, which saw eight people get various honors from the Civic Commission and four others get inducted into the Trenton Sports Hall of Fame.
We have extensive articles on the awards (1-A) and the inductions (17-B) in this issue, so I don’t really need to go into detail here.
But, while listening to the presentations to Police Officer of the Year Jeff Neese and Firefighter of the Year Jake Hermanson, I couldn’t help but think of all the times recently when I’ve heard people mention what great Police and Fire departments we have here in town, along with various stories of how one of our police officers went above and beyond to assist a resident, or how the actions of one of our firefighter-EMT’s saved someone’s life, or the life of their close friend or relative.
In most cases those personal accounts are parts of casual conversations and don’t often end up on paper, much less in the newspaper.
Then, the Monday morning after the award dinner, the following note was dropped off at our office:
“Christmas Day and New Year’s Day at age 92 would not have been possible for me if it hadn’t been for our great Trenton Fire Department. I am sorry, gentlemen, I do not know your names. On Dec. 19, 2016, and again on Jan. 2, 2017, I was in congestive heart failure. My niece called the Fire Department and the calmness and professionalism and treatment enabled me to celebrate those holidays with my family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this gift. Trenton has a lot to be proud of. Thanks to all the firemen and EMT persons.”
Thank you, Ms. Beres-Stimson, for taking the time to write the note and passing it along. The cynical among us would just say that the police and firefighters are just doing what they are paid to do, so what’s the big deal? Ironically, many first responders would probably say basically the same thing. You hear it time and time again when they are interviewed after doing something others view as heroic: “I was just doing my job.”
But that is from the sense of duty of a public servant, not the negative world view of a cynic.
In an era when so many are quick to judge others by the misdeeds of one, we need to make the extra effort to thank those who vow to serve and protect, because the vast majority do it well.
In Trenton sports circles, Doug Mehrhof’s name has somewhat legendary status. Though he moved away from town many years ago, the 1973 graduate is still widely and fondly remember as one of the most hard-nosed and talented linemen to ever wear the blue and gold.
So it’s no surprise that his death last month after a long battle with cancer provoked many heartfelt reactions from those who knew him.
For more about Doug, see the article by Brian Rzeppa on Page 12-B. I also wanted to share here a few of the thoughts extended by friends and former teammates in response to a group email that shared the news of his death:
Nick Pizzo (’78): One of the toughest guys I knew. Never forget that grin and laugh. He was a good friend. All the families that had multiple brothers that played had a special connection. His family very well respected and loved. RIP.
Greg Castignola (’76): Very sad to hear, we lost a great one. May he RIP and my thoughts and prayers for the entire Mehrhof family.
Bill Allen (’75): I’m saddened to hear of the loss of Doug. I remember him as a hard-hitting football player and a leader, who, as an upperclassman, was never above talking to me or giving encouragement to me as a freshman.
Mike Baker (’74): One tough guy on the field, but a big-hearted teddy bear off the field.
Mike Chrumka (’74): “So sad to hear about Doug. Thank you for letting us know. I think the hardest I was ever hit was when he was making a tackle and I got in his way. Very good memories. My prayers and deepest sympathies go out to his family.”
Just based on the nature of the comments and who the commenters were, there’s little doubt that Mehrhof had a positive influence on a lot of players who came after him.
Mehrhof’s senior year was a big turnaround year for Trenton, with the team going 8-1 after an 0-9 season in 1971. In the three years that followed, Trenton lost a total of two games.
It’s fair to say he helped set the tone.
Joe Hoshaw Jr. is editor and co-publisher of the Trenton Trib. Email him at email@example.com.