by Beth Stauffer

At the 2013 State of the City banquet held at The Orchid on Monday, March 11th, the recipient of the third annual Bill Fritcha Memorial Award was announced.

Craig Robison

In 2011, the award was developed by Mayor Terry McDonald’s office to recognize and memorialize New Haven’s own Mr. Bill Fritcha.  Mr. Fritcha was a long-time family man and business owner of Fritcha’s Construction in New Haven, but as Mayor McDonald stated on Monday evening, “Diane (Fritcha, Bill’s wife) and his family and all of us know how much we miss Bill, not for his giving, but for his love of community and big heart that seemed to know no stranger.”

The award, McDonald went on to explain, is given to “recognize the accomplishments of an individual who exhibited the same kind of characteristics as Bill, from his civic engagement, service to community with humility, and acts of kindness unknown to most.”

The Bill Fritcha Memorial Award Selection Committee unanimously decided to posthumously recognize the New Haven Police Department’s Detective Sergeant Craig A. Robison as the 2013 recipient.  Robison’s brother, City Court Judge Geoff Robison, accepted the award on behalf of the Robison family.  (Detective Sergeant Robison’s wife, Sharon Robison, and mother Shirley Robison, were out of town and unable to attend Monday evening’s event.)

Of Robison, Mayor McDonald said, “Once again, the Selection Committee had several very good candidates, but one stood out from among the rest.  A man who has given through his work for the community not just a job, but a calling upon his life that meant something to him…This recipient gave to the community by giving thousands of hours over many decades to make New Haven a great place to live and raise a family.  He never asked for anything, and he sometimes seemed embarrassed when someone recognized him for his volunteer work.  He had a knack for getting others involved, as he was an encourager, and would take the time to teach someone the necessary skills that they would need to help with the task he asked them to get involved in.”

Mayor McDonald went on to say of Robison, “This man gave more than most know, and he did it very quietly.  He was never satisfied with the status quo, and I liked that about him.  He would tell you directly how he felt and was never afraid to speak his mind with respect and courtesy.  He expected the best from those he worked with, because he knew they were capable and he never asked more from someone than what he was willing to do or give.  That is a very special quality.”

Mayor Terry McDonald, Diane Fritcha, and Judge Geoff Robison

Judge Geoff Robison said in an emotional acceptance speech on behalf of his brother, “One of the most amazing parts for me has been seeing what this community has put forth after the tragic loss of Craig.  The personal accolades and experiences that so many people have shared with us about Craig during his time with us has just been incredible. This award is so special to us as a family.   To have Craig put on the same level as Bill Fritcha and Leon Davis in this community is such an honor.”

The prior recipients of the Bill Fritcha Memorial Award were Bill Fritcha in 2011 and Mr. Leon Davis in 2012.

Diane Fritcha, the widow of Bill Fritcha, was on hand to present the award created in honor of her late husband to Detective Sergeant Robison’s family.  “I knew Craig, and my family and I thought he was incredibly deserving of this award,” said Mrs. Fritcha after the announcement of Craig Robison as the recipient of the 2013 Bill Fritcha Memorial Award.

Detective Sergeant Robison was a 21 year veteran of the New Haven Police Department.  He was a Deputy Allen County Coroner, a member of the Indiana Coroner’s Association, a Special Deputy U.S. Marshall, a member of the Federal Bank Robbery Task Force, and a Fraternal Order of Police and D.A.R.E. Officer. He also served for 27 years as a member and past president of the New Haven Festival Committee.

Robison passed away on July 1st, 2011 at Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne after suffering a heart attack at his home in New Haven.

“I’m embarrassed to tell you that some 25 years ago I did my very best to talk my brother Craig out of a career in law enforcement.  It didn’t work out for me and imagine today how silly I feel about that,” said Judge Robison in his touching tribute to his brother, Craig.  “Craig loved helping people, and he loved clearing the way for others in the community to do the same.”

On behalf of the grateful community of New Haven on the occasion of Detective Sergeant Robison’s recognition as the Bill Fritcha Memorial Award recipient, I think it is safe to say that we are all relieved that Judge Robison failed at talking his little brother out of his life’s calling as a law enforcement officer.

Detective Sergeant Craig Robison was truly one of New Haven’s finest in every sense of the word, and his lasting legacy won’t soon be forgotten.

POSTED: 03/12/13 at 7:36 am. FILED UNDER: Announcements, News