Interview by Abernathy Cochran Real Estate Group Realtor Ricky Lewallen
Meet Chief Frank Hooper! Frank served as the chief of the Gainesville Police Department from 1998 to 2009 and served with the department for a total of 32 years!
“I grew up in law enforcement and had been around it my entire life but I guess my dad was my inspiration. When he announced he was retiring I ended up putting an application in…my family worked at Gainesville PD for 56 years,” Frank said.
Frank has lived in Hall County his entire life and is married to Teresa, the couple has two sons and four grandchildren.
“My family has been in Hall County so long that I tell folks that we crawled out of the Chattahoochee River but I’ve here my whole life. I went to North Hall High School, went to Riverbend Elementary,” he said.
One of his favorite things since he has retired from GPD, is spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren, he said.
We want to thank Mr. Hooper for sitting down with us recently and telling us more about his life and love of Hall County.
Question: What inspired you or lead you to become a police officer?
A: “That’s a great question. I guess because I grew up in it, my dad was a police officer for 25 years and was a captain when he retired in 1977. I thought that I wanted to be a land surveyor and so that’s what I was doing and had been doing it for about three years. I grew up in law enforcement and had been around it my entire life but I guess my dad was my inspiration. When he announced he was retiring I ended up putting an application in…my family worked at Gainesville PD for 56 years.
Q: What is your most memorable moment as a police officer or police chief?
A: “That’s a tough question! What I tell people about my career, I served 32 years, I came through the ranks. I was commander over criminal investigation, then I got into the administrative side and really enjoyed it and then worked on accreditation…there’s several but probably one of my most memorable was 1996, I was a lieutenant and got to work on Olympic security and that was pretty neat. Not too many law enforcement people can say they got to work on Olympic security. It was fascinating, we would have dignitaries coming into town. I can remember the day that The Clinton’s visited Gainesville and the Today showed filmed out at the rowing venue a couple of days. In 2009, I was appointed Georgia’s Police Chief of the Year and that was quite an honor but I attribute that to the people that I work with.”
Q: What awards in your career did you receive?
A: “There were several, I was Police Rookie of the Year in 1978, I was Police Officer of the Year in 1993, then in 2009 after I’d made chief, I was Georgia’s Chief of the Year for the whole state. I was recognized for that by the Georgia Senate with a proclamation and that was pretty neat, Lee Hawkins did that. That was very unique, and the first time that anyone could remember, that Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic was Sheriff of the Year…it was the first time that the chief and the sheriff in the same community got the same award. As a police chief or a sheriff, you’re only as good as the people you work with.”
Q: What are you loving most about retirement?
A: “Freedom. I still have to keep a calendar believe it or not but the thing I most enjoy is my wife Teresa, we’ve been married 42 years and getting to spend time with her and do what we want. Just yesterday we decided to get in the car and spend the day in the mountains. But the primary thing is spending time with my grandkids.”
Q: Who is the most interesting person that you have met in Hall County?
A: “Wow, it would probably have to be when President George Bush came to Gainesville, when he was running for president. The multitude of folks that you work with with different agencies like the Olympics was pretty unique. I’ll never forget when the Falcons first came here and opened their facility, getting to go down and meeting Tommy Nobis was really cool. He was my favorite Falcon growing up as a kid and when I played football at Riverbend, I wore Tommy Nobis’ number, number 60 was the number I wanted. Another person that lives here in Hall County that I got to meet was Phil Neikro and I served on a committee with Phil Neikro at the Edmondson Telford Center and Phil is just a great guy to get to know and just an ordinary guy when you get to sit down and talk to him. I asked him how he learned to throw the knuckle ball and he said his dad taught him in the backyard.”
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
A: “I would want to go to Europe. I’m kind of a history buff and there’s things over there that I would love to see, that are part of our history and I would like to know more about. I’d love to go there and to the Holy Land.
Q: What is your favorite movie or the first movie you saw in the theater?
A: “It would have to be a Western, when I was a kid growing up that’s what my dad would take me to, at the old Royal Theater downtown on the square and we would go see Western’s. Probably my favorite movie is the John Wayne version of ‘True Grit.'”
Q: What advice would you give a crowd of people?
A: “Probably the best thing I can tells folks is whatever you are doing today, will reflect on you tomorrow. Your actions today can become part of history and you want to make sure it is positive.”
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: “I would love to go to out to Colorado maybe on an elk hunt or something.”
Q: What are three bands you would like to see or who you listen to?
A: “I love music and I love all kinds of music but probably the Eagles would be No. 1, and I regret that I didn’t see the Eagles before Glen Frey passed away. A close No. 2 would be John Denver and I guess believe it or not but The Beatles.”
Q: What former Hall County business makes you the most nostalgic?
A: “The Collegiate, it’s been around forever. We talked a little about the Royal Theater…and Saturday my mother had a standing appointment at 4 o’clock at Polly’s Beauty Shop, which was two doors up from the Royal Theater and three doors up from The Collegiate, so if I had been a good boy all week, I got about 50 cents…and I could get a hamburger, hotdog and a drink and then I’d get money for a movie ticket. Something that really impresses me is that Jeff Worley, who owns The Collegiate, has really taken it back to what it was when I was a kid.”
Q: What is your favorite thing about Hall County?
A: “I think Hall County is growing but to me it still has that small town, family atmosphere. I think it’s beautiful…I’ve been all over the United State but I’ve never seen anywhere quite like Hall County, it’s just my favorite place. You’ve got Lake Lanier, you’ve got the parks, the mountains are an hour away and you can be on the beach in four hours.”
Q: What three words mean HOME to you?
A: “Family, the house Teresa and I live in we have lived in for 35 years and it’s a house that I contracted and built myself, it’s on land that my grandfather purchased in 1930, part of his old farm…the land was $300 in 1931. North Hall and Church.”
The Faces of Hall County is a project to showcase the amazing people that live or work in our community. If you would like to nominate an interesting person to be featured please email firstname.lastname@example.org.