FRANCONIA — When the Franconia Township Police Department posted on its Facebook page that retired Police Chief Paul R. Hunsberger, who served in that position from 1965 to 1997, had died, several posters added their condolences and memories.
"Remember him well from elementary school assemblies. Such a kind and respectful officer. He was loved by all," Susan Nice-Blum wrote.
Others remembered bicycle rodeos.
"He was instrumental in developing many partnerships with the community, especially the schools," according to police department information.
That may be his biggest legacy, said Joseph Kozeniewski, who was hired by Hunsberger in 1981 and followed Hunsberger as the department's chief.
"Even through my time, the police departments in the Indian Valley were the envy of a lot of other police departments around the county because we were always on a first name basis with a lot of the teachers and the superintendents always welcomed us in to do things," Kozeniewski, who retired in 2018, said in a telephone interview. "Chief Hunsberger really laid the groundwork and really developed that relationship which I think really went a long way in making the police department part of the community."
"He was genuinely a community-oriented person. Everybody knew him," said Sgt. George Moyer, who was hired by Hunsberger as a part-time officer in 1989 before becoming full-time the following year.
"He was the face of Franconia Township," Moyer said.
Hunsberger, 94, died Jan. 24. A private burial was held Jan. 28. A memorial service is planned this fall.
During part of the time he served as Franconia's chief, his father Paul Hunsberger was Souderton's police chief and his half-brother John Kayser was Upper Dublin's chief.
Hunsberger had a calm and mild demeanor, Moyer said.
"He was fair with everybody," Moyer said. "He ran a tight ship, but I don't know of any officers that worked here that did not like him and respect him very much."
"What the people saw in public and what we saw from him as a boss, it was the same," Kozeniewski said, describing Hunsberger as "always upbeat, always had a smile and always had a good story to tell."
Hunsberger had rules, but wasn't a taskmaster, Kozeniewski said.
If an officer broke one of the rules, Kozeniewski said, Hunsberger would sit the officer down and ask, "How are we going to fix this?"
"He would let you figure it out how to correct the thing, and you wouldn't do it again," Kozeniewski said. "As one of my fellow retirees said, you didn't need a lot of rules because you did it out of respect for Chief Hunse."
Along with developing the partnerships with the community, Hunsberger oversaw the growth of the department during his 32 years as chief and supervised the department's move to the current township building on Allentown Road, the police department information says.
Before becoming a Franconia officer, he served with the Upper Gwynedd Township Police Department for six years.