Marquardt’s 50-year career honored with surprise party

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Alpena County Undersheriff Terry King, left, presents an achievement pin to former Alpena County sheriff Jim Marquardt at a ceremony honoring Marquardt’s 50th year as a police officer. The pin has five stars on it, one for each decade of service. Marquardt doesn’t plan to retire, yet, and will stay with the Sheriff’s Office as a court bailiff.

ALPENA –Many in the law enforcement profession describe relationships they have with fellow officers, deputies and troopers as a brotherhood.

In that way, a surprise party on Friday honoring former Alpena County sheriff Jim Marquardt’s 50 years in law enforcement was like a family reunion, as dozens of current and former police officials gathered to salute one of Alpena’s finest.

Marquardt didn’t know about the party and the crowd fellow officers, friends and family was already gathered at the APlex before Alpena County Sheriff Steve Kieliszewski escorted Marquardt into the party. Once Marquardt realized the meeting he was led to believe he was attending was in fact a party for him, he shook his head humbly as the crowd cheered him.

Marquardt’s wife, Kathleen, said that not only is Jim about to celebrate 50 years in law enforcement, but the couple will also celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on May 3. They were only married a bit more than one week before he was hired by Alpena County in 1969.

“It’s been a journey, for sure,” she said. “Being married to someone in law enforcement, you know it is a different life and you live differently. And he has also been shared with his other family, which is Alpena County. But I learned to go with the flow. He is very humble and doesn’t like all of the attention, doesn’t think he deserves it, and is slightly embarrassed. That’s how humble he is.”

His son, Dan Marquardt, lives in Traverse City and came to Alpena to help honor his father. He said he is proud of his father’s accomplishments and for being a good father at home.

“I grew up in awe of my dad, and I’m happy for him that he is being recognized for his dedication to the Alpena community, because it is well-deserved,” Dan said. “He loves the town and county he grew up in and he’s proud of it.”

There were dozens of police officers at the party, many currently employed by the Alpena County Sheriff’s Office, Alpena Police Department, or the Michigan State Police. Retired officers whom Marquardt worked with but outlasted also came to show their respect.

Alpena County Commissioner Brad McRoberts was an undersheriff under Marquardt and he said there were specific traits Marquardt had that made him a good boss and police officer.

“He is kind and ethical and never let police work or his position go to his head,” McRoberts said. “He always loved working with the kids and he always was very fair and upfront with people and he treated everyone that way. When you talked to Jim, you knew you were getting the truth. I just really enjoyed working with him.”

Kieliszewski was also an undersheriff under Marquardt. He said what he learned from his former mentor has helped him serve as sheriff.

“He taught me to keep my mouth shut, listen, and to treat everyone with dignity and respect,” Kieliszewski said. “I have always tried to apply that to my job.”

State Rep. Sue Allor, R-Wolverine, who represents Northeast Michigan, attended the party and presented Marquardt a proclamation commending his service. It was signed by Allor, state Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, who also represents Northeast Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist. Allor said an American flag flown over the Capitol in Lansing on Friday was dedicated to Marquardt and will be presented to him soon.

“I find it hard to believe that anyone is ever, ever, ever going to achieve 50 years again,” Allor said. “That type of longevity is amazing, and this is a tremendous achievement. It’s awesome.”

During the ceremony, Marquardt received several gifts and received a pin with five stars on it that will be affixed to his uniform. Each star represents 10 years of service.

APD Lt. Eric Hamp has been a police officer for 16 years. He said he has a lot of respect for Marquardt and his longevity and admires the type of person he is.

“To work 50 years in our profession is unheard of, because it is very stressful, and not only on the employee, but also your family,” Hamp said. “Frankly, we may never see this again in Alpena County. He is a wonderful man and he set the bar high for the rest of us. He is the example of what a police officer should be and a role model for those of us who have come in behind him.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at Follow him on Twitter