Graettinger: Goodbyes are never easy

Mary Heiser, left, accepts an award from Richard Nonini, Sun City Posse commander, recognizing her retirement from the all-volunteer organization.
Mary Heiser, left, accepts an award from Richard Nonini, Sun City Posse commander, recognizing her retirement from the all-volunteer organization.
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Family is more than just the traditional matrix of parents and children, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary; it also can be a social unit, considered different from, but equivalent to, a family.

That is the Sun City Posse.

At the latest Sun City Posse general meeting, I was awed by just how much family means to each and every Posse member. One of our own, Robert Pulkinghorn, died and I was able to observe, for the first time, the solemn “Last Call” ceremony that is part of my extended family.

Over the airwaves, picked up by portable radios issued to each Posse member, dispatcher Marge Paulding, using Mr. Pulkinghorn’s patrol identity number, P6527, said, “Base is 10-8 for Last Call. P6529 went 10-7 (end of shift), on Jan. 24, 2020. Robert Pulkinghorn was a dedicated Posse volunteer for 12 years and gave many hours to the Posse; always ready to help take additional shifts when needed, Robert volunteered also with the PRIDES and when a call came from the fire department to help install lock boxes, he was there to help. Robert will be missed by all of us and we say goodbye, good buddy. Rest in Peace. Base is 10-8.” And then, “Radio Silence.”

What an eerily beautiful way to say “Goodbye.”

But that was not the only goodbye at our February meeting. On a more up-beat note, former Posse commander Sister Mary Heiser is putting away her uniform for a final time after 13 years of service to the Posse. Besides serving as commander, she has worn numerous hats, including duty officer, training officer and chaplain. Commander Richard “Rich” Nonini  presented her with an award for her tremendous service to the Posse and Sun City.

In addition to her duties as a member of the Posse, she also belonged to a Catholic religious order. Sister Mary, as she is affectionately known, joined the Sisters of Notre Dame in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1956. She took her vows two years later. She has served the same boss for more than 70 years. She joined the Posse in 2007, where her quiet demeanor and glowing smile was a constant at Posse headquarters.

During her retirement ceremony, the commander credited her with helping to grow the Posse to its current level of personnel. Right now, we have 121 members.

A quiet, constant presence around Posse headquarters, Sister Mary will be missed.

So, that is what I mean when I talk about the Posse being my family, it means that family is more than that which blood binds together, it means we also are bound by our love and commitment to helping each other and our community.

That, my friends, is the greatest family of all. 

Editor’s Note: Ms. Graettinger is Sun City Posse public information officer.

Goodbyes, never, easy

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