PROFILE OF A MUSEUM
Gearhart Fries was
born in Fresno, California on Dec. 8, 1926, and attended schools in the
Central Valley. In December of 1944,
while a senior at Sanger Union High School, Gearhart joined the United States
Navy as a combat aircrewman. He was
sent to Memphis, Tennessee for boot camp training, specializing as an
aircrewman. After completing boot camp
training, Gearheart was sent to Norman, Oklahoma to attend Aviation Machinist
Mate School. Afterwards he was sent to Aerial Gunners School at Jacksonville,
Florida, and was then assigned as a PB4Y2 aircraft crewman. To complete his training, Gearheart was
sent to the PB4Y2 operational training school at Hutchinson, Kansas.
In the meantime the war ended, and because his enlistment was for the
duration of the war plus 6 months, he shortly became eligible for discharge.
He was honorably discharged at Camp Shoemaker, California.
Gearheart returned to Fresno where he attended Fresno City College for 2
years as a business major. At Christmas time he worked for the U.S. Postal
Service and later became a full-time letter carrier. While working at the
Post Office his fellow employees encouraged him to join the 936th Army Postal
Unit as an Army Reservist. He was in
the Army Reserve for 8 years and took his annual training at Camp Roberts,
During this time Gearhart took the Civil Service and Agility tests for the
Fresno Police Department and was hired as a Police Officer for the City of
Fresno. During his career as a Police Officer he worked in patrol, as an
accident investigator, as a plain clothes officer, in special enforcement,
and as a detective in the Juvenile Division. He remained a police officer for
21 years until his retirement in 1980.
After retiring Gearhart became uncomfortable lounging around and took a job
at the Satellite Racetrack at the Fresno Fairgrounds as an admissions clerk.
He was later promoted to Assistant Satellite Supervisor and is still working
in that position.
Gearhart married his high school girl friend in 1950 and they celebrated
their 50th wedding anniversary in July of 2000. They have 4 children, all of
whom are grown and on there own.
In August of
1996, Chuck Monges asked Gearhart if he would consider donating one day a
week to the Legion of Valor Museum as a docent. Gearhart graciously agreed
and has been working as a docent at the Legion of Valor Museum ever since.