Eric Grossoehme dressed in his Nebraska State Patrol uniform for the last time July 31. His wife, Kimm, snapped a picture of him with his patrol car in their Blair driveway. Then, he drove to Lincoln to turn in the car and other supplies after 30 years of service.
On Friday, two days into his retirement and one day after helping his youngest son, Zac, ready for his freshman year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Grossoehme said the realization that his time in the state patrol is over would likely come the next day. Saturday had been his last day off before returning to his Sunday to Wednesday work week.
"Usually Saturday morning would come and I'd start getting the 'going back to work blues,'" he said. "This week, not having to work Sunday, I think that'll be the time it will hit me that I'm done with something I've done for 30 years. My wife's more sad about it than I am. I'm kind of ready to move on."
Grossoehme spent the majority of his three decades in law enforcement patrolling Washington, Dodge and Douglas counties. After transferring within the state patrol from Wahoo to Blair in January 1992, he worked in the patrol's drug division, patrolled highways, engaged in pursuits and reconstructed accident scenes.
But, he said, a big part of what he's enjoyed in his career is becoming a part of the community.
"I moved to Blair in '92, met my wife in '92, and we were married in '93, so I was glad I stayed here because the school system is outstanding," he said. "Other than doing my job, and the reconstruction, and the pursuits, most of what I've enjoyed is being involved in the community and getting to know people on and off duty."
Grossoehme said he thinks he connected with many people through being involved and visible in the community.
"I've had kids that had information they wouldn't tell any other police officer," he said. "It's important to live in the community and be approachable for the younger generation to know they have somewhere else to go if their parents aren't there for them."
Grossoehme said his three children, JC, Reagan and Zac, who graduated from Blair High School helped him become even more involved in the community.
"In my early days before I had kids, I was probably less willing to be (involved), but once you have kids you have to interact with other people a lot more," Grossoehme said.
His co-workers are another bright spot in his career, he said, including the last three years working with fellow patrolman Mark Kinney.
Guy Pensyl, a long-time deputy of Washington County who died in 1996, was also one of his favorite people he worked with.
"His stories, I don't know if they got bigger from when they happened, but he always had a story that would just have you cracking up," Grossoehme said. "It was something to look forward to going to work because you know you're going to get a laugh."
Like Pensyl, Grossoehme said he could probably talk for a while about his sometimes tragic, interesting or out-of-the ordinary tales.
"One of my first calls, I got called to secure a scene of a triple homicide, suicide in Octavia," he said. "Being a new trooper, that was a pretty surreal setting to be that young and new at to go to."
Grossoehme said he's also been involved in pursuits, at least one of which ended in a crash.
In 2012, after stopping a car with Iowa plates for speeding near the Blair north fire station, the driver took off.
"I was going to write him a warning ... When I ran his name, he had a warrant for Washington state," Grossoehme said. "When I asked him to step out of the car, he took off. Ended up pursuing him, chased him over to Fremont."
After crashing, the driver began stabbing himself in the neck and leg, Grossoehme said.
"It was in the hospital parking lot, so they were able to save his life, but (the warrant) was for child pornography," he said. "If (he'd crashed) a block away, he wouldn't have made it."
Grossoehme's interactions with Blair resident Larry "the mole man" Holzer is an example of community policing, he said. Holzer has spent about 15 years catching moles around town whenever he happens upon them in a public sports complex field or a neighborhood yard.
"At first, when I'd come up, basically all I was doing was community policing saying, 'Hey, what's going on?'" Grossoehme said. "Just about every time I'd see him, I'd honk my horn and stuff. He's an interesting fella."
Though he could keep telling story after story, Grossoehme said he just enjoyed being an officer and he's happy that young people, like Arlington graduate Cameron TenEyck and Fort Calhoun graduate Nathan Schulz, are continually interested in joining the Nebraska State Patrol.
"I'm really happy to see that there's young people willing to get involved in law enforcement because — at least from a television media standpoint — law enforcement is taking a lot of hits recently, and for someone to look through that and say they want to be part of the solution and get involved, that's really good to see," he said. "But probably just a summary of my career is I really enjoyed it."
So what's next?
Grossoehme said he's looking into doing security work, but, at least for the first couple retirement days, he's been taking care of chores.
"Cleaned the house this morning," he said on Friday. "Got to mow the yard this afternoon."
"Domesticated dad," he added with a slight grin.