BUCKHANNON –Former Upshur County Sheriff and Buckhannon Police Chief Fred Gaudet, who died in 1999, was recognized as the City of Buckhannon’s third annual Wilbert “Webb” Grubb honoree Wednesday afternoon at the public safety complex.
Many of Gaudet’s family members including his son Brian were on hand for the ceremony honoring the 1968 Buckhannon-Upshur High School graduate and long-time law enforcement officer.
Family members and friends shared stories of Gaudet.
His son Brian shared an anecdote about his dad’s habit of forgetting his gun at the barbershop after hanging up his gun belt for a trim.
On one occasion, Brian noted Fred had forgotten his firearm when a call came for a reported bank robbery. After getting a second firearm, Brian said his dad responded to the bank only to find it was a false alarm, bringing laughter from the crowd. Many people there remembered the stories of Chief Gaudet leaving his gun at the barber shop from time to time.
Current Buckhannon Police Chief Matt Gregory recalled his first day on the job with Gaudet. According to Gregory, he didn’t have a pen on his first day on the job bringing a lecture from Gaudet on the importance of always having an ink pen in his pocket.
Gregory remembered Gaudet as a mentor and father figure in his life.
Gaudet was a member of the B-UHS 1966 state championship football team and attended Marshall University on a football scholarship. He graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College with a degree in criminal justice and government.
Gaudet graduated from the Richmond (VA) Bureau Police Academy and began a long career in law enforcement as a police officer in Richmond rising to the rank of homicide detective before returning home to serve as sheriff, magistrate and county commissioner.
He also served as president of the WV Sheriff’s Association in 1987. He was a recipient of many awards including excellent police duty medal; commitment to duty award; B-U Chamber of Commerce Upshur County citizen of the year; and criminal justice partnership award by the WV Prosecutor’s Association.
Gaudet was appointed police chief. As chief he introduced a policy manual and many professionally oriented trainings for the Buckhannon Police Department.
Gaudet will have a plaque displayed in his honor on the city’s Wall of Blue on the grounds of the public safety complex. Additionally, all honorees will have their names added to a plaque to be displayed in the lobby at city hall.
Webb Grubb is the only Buckhannon city police officer to die in the line of duty. Grubb was killed in 1940 by Byzantine Hartman after Grubb responded to a report of a sexual assault by Hartman against his own mother.
Grubb died April 21, 1940 after being shot at point-blank range with a shotgun by Hartman.
Grubb, a World War I veteran, was 46 years old at the time of death.
Hartman was tried, convicted and became the first Upshur County resident executed after his conviction on first degree murder. He was hanged at the Moundsville State Penitentiary on June 28, 1940.
Grubb was survived by his wife Grace, who passed in 1986, and a son, Charles Ray, who passed in 1972.
According to Mayor McCauley, Grubb continues to serve “as our community’s permanent testament and reminder to us all of the perils confronted by our first responders, and the uncertainty they are subjected to during each to which they respond as they serve and protect us.”