I Spy Someone making a difference.
Campus Security officer receives integrity awardby Corrie Lee Lacey
Finders keepers, right? Not in Bob Frohmann’s book, or at least not while he’s on the day shift as a public safety officer at Coastal Carolina University.
In fact, when Frohmann found a $100 bill lying next to the Career Services building last November, he turned it in to lost and found.
According to Frohmann, turning in the money was an easy decision; he never thought twice about it. “I was working,” he says. “I was getting paid to be a security officer. It was the right thing to do.”
But apparently it was a decision not everyone would have made. That’s why President David DeCenzo recognized Frohmann for his integrity at a recent ceremony in his office. DeCenzo presented Frohmann with a certificate acknowledging his service to the students, faculty and staff of CCU.
“I had no idea it would turn into this,” says Frohmann. “But I’m honored they would recognize such a small deed from a public safety officer.”
Frohmann hasn’t always worked in public safety, but he’s always had a passion for public service.
Frohmann grew up in the Bronx, N.Y. His father worked in the meat industry, running Frohmann’s Meat Market, a business his family owned since 1890. Frohmann started working at the market at 8 years old. At age 13, someone reported him to the Labor Department, and he was forced to stop working.
“If I had known about the Labor Department, I would have turned myself in,” Frohmann says, laughing.
Frohmann attended the City College of New York for a few months, but decided the business needed more of his time. At 26, he ventured out on his own and bought a butcher shop in Long Island, N.Y., an area home to mansions, 200-acre estates and polo fields. Popularity grew quickly by word-of-mouth, and the shop did well.
By 1979, Frohmann’s business was in a down period when one of the oldest market owners in the area decided to retire.
“The business was being sold, along with the $50,000 inventory,” says Frohmann. “The list of customers was up for grabs – customers that were the ‘who’s who’ of the industry.”
Borrowing equity from his father, Frohmann and a friend bought the business – a store three or four times bigger than his own. He went from two phones to six.
“The store was more like a small supermarket,” says Frohmann. “I only knew meat. But it turned out to be great fun. I enjoyed the hard work."
But with the bigger store came a different trend in customers.
“I rarely spoke to the buyers anymore,” says Frohmann. “I only dealt with their cooks, butlers, maids or secretaries. And their bills would go to financial managers.”
Frohmann says life in New York was vastly different from Myrtle Beach – especially the climate – but at that time it was all he knew.
“In New York, wide open space was a football field,” he says. “Riding the subway was a normal way to get around.”
While running his meat market, Frohmann also volunteered at Middle Earth Switch Board, a crisis-intervention center, where he met a number of school kids. He hired many of them to work in the store as wrappers and cleaners. One student, Bob Gasperetti, wanted to learn the meat business and Frohmann agreed to train him.
“He became a ‘little me’ but taller,” says Frohmann.
Gasperetti is now a master furniture maker in Vermont and was recently cited in a magazine article crediting his success to Frohmann, “his teacher.”
"Bob’s honesty and sincerity, love and respect of people, and his attention to detail have had a tremendous influence on my life, my craft and the way I run my own business," says Gasperetti.
In 1991, Frohmann and his wife of 21 years, Andee, moved to Florida.
Both retired for about six months, but they missed the challenges of work. Frohmann tried real estate and had a good run, but in 2004 he suffered a mild stroke that left him with brain damage.
After 15 years in Florida, a heart attack and other complications, Frohmann decided to move to Conway to be near son, Ed, who is meat manager at Costco in Myrtle Beach.
The Frohmanns have lived in Conway since 2006. They love to travel, whether it’s small trips to a museum or long distances to visit daughter Tracy, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard stationed in Florida, or son Gregory, sergeant first class in the U.S. Army stationed in Texas. Frohmann also has two grandchildren: Case, 8, and Brice, 1 month old.
Before suffering a stroke, Robert enjoyed playing racquetball and bowled three or four times a week. After his stroke, he started playing golf, a sport his wife also enjoys.
“It’s a game that requires a sense of humor,” says Robert, who is a fan of Tiger Woods.
Frohmann had plenty of time to work on his golf swing when he first took the job at CCU, working the security night shift. But he has since switched to the day shift, patrolling the J and K lots near the Singleton Building.
Frohmann says his job entails mostly writing tickets and calling in vehicles that need to be towed, but says he tries to warn community members before they park their vehicle in a restricted area.
“I’m used to being in a small business environment,” says Frohmann. “I’m used to talking to people and being friendly. So that’s what I try to do here.”
And people notice.
“On several occasions, I have gotten both verbal and written compliments about the way Mr. Frohmann treats all the people he comes in contact with while he does his job for Public Safety,” says Police Chief David Roper. “The finding and turning in the money was just icing on the cake for me in determining that this deed should be recognized.”
President DeCenzo agrees.
“The award recognizes integrity and excellence,” says DeCenzo. “Bob Frohmann has shown tremendous character and commitment to this University. His actions reflect the core values of Coastal Carolina University and are indicative of our shared quest for excellence.”