Hardgrove Calls It A Career With The FDL County Sheriff’s Department

After a 53-year run, Steve Hardgrove called it quits with the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Department.

In a post on Social Media Wednesday (7/20/2022), FDL County Sheriff Ryan Waldschimdt said, “Today we bid farewell to a 53 year employee of the Sheriff’s Office…yes, that’s right – FIFTY THREE years!  Not only did I have the pleasure of talking to Steve about his long career here, but County Executive Sam Kaufman also stopped down to thank him for his longtime service to Fond du Lac County.”

The post also went into detail on the history Hardgrove had with the department.

“Steve Hardgrove has spent the vast majority of his 75 year life with the sheriff’s office.  When Steve was born, his father John was sheriff and his mother was the sheriff’s matron who served meals to inmates in the jail. 

“Back in the 40’s and 50’s, the sheriff and his family lived at the sheriff’s office, and Steve spent a portion of his childhood living in the old sheriff’s office and jail building.  Back then the building was located along Linden St. where the employee parking lot is now located.  He remembers running the halls of the jail as a kid, and spending time in the jail cells talking with the “trustworthy” inmates. 

“He would get in trouble if his father caught him in the jail, and Steve remembers one instance when an inmate hid him under the cell bunk so he wouldn’t get in trouble when Sheriff Hardgrove was making a round.  He also remembers inmates showing him how to roll a cigarette and teaching him different swear words…both of which also got him in big trouble at a young age.  Those were different times, indeed!

“After high school Steve entered the military, and upon honorable discharge he was hired as a radio dispatcher here in 1969.  In 1970 he was hired as a Fond du Lac County Traffic Police officer. 

“Back then the county was served by two different law enforcement agencies – the Traffic Police who investigated crashes and enforced traffic law, and the Sheriff’s Office who investigated crimes and ran the jail. 

“In 1978, Steve was hired as a sheriff’s office detective, and he held that position until his retirement in 2000.  That ended a 31 year law enforcement career, but later that year Steve returned to work for Fond du Lac County as a maintenance custodian, assigned to clean in both the sheriff’s office and city/county government center.  In 2006 he became the lead sheriff’s office maintenance custodian, and is retiring from that position today. 

“53 years in any career is almost unheard of, much less a 53 year career serving in a public safety capacity.  We also refer to him as our “sheriff’s office historian,” as he is one of the few remaining people still alive today that can tell us about the sheriff’s office and employees dating to the 1970’s and earlier.  Steve has worked for the last eight sheriffs going back to 1969 – Dankert, Cearns, Sondergard, Snyder, Gilmore, Pucker, Fink, and Waldschmidt.

Waldschmidt concluded his post saying, “Steve, you will be missed around these hallways and offices, but you’re always welcome here, and we’ve got your number so we can look you up when we need information on a historical question too!  After 75 years of association with the sheriff’s office in some capacity, take a little time off and enjoy yourself.  You’ve earned it!  Thank you for your many years of service to the citizens of Fond du Lac County.”