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Former county commissioner Rock honored

April 10, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.

"I knew I'd see him hang sooner or later," former Franklin County Prothonotary John George said Tuesday of another retired politician, former county commissioner Fred Rock.

Rock, 83, who served as a commissioner for four terms in the 1970s and 1980s, lived to see it too, becoming the first living former commissioner to have his portrait hung in the courthouse.

About 50 people, many of them Rocks who are current or past officeholders and public officials, attended the ceremony in the commissioners meeting room. They included Rock's daughter, Guilford Township Tax Collector Carol Wagaman; nephew and state Rep. Todd Rock; son and Guilford Township Supervisor Steve Rock; Magisterial District Judge Kelly Rock; her husband, PennDOT County Manager Dave Rock; brother Nelson Rock, a former Waynesboro school board member; and brother Robert Rock, a former Mont Alto borough councilman.

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"We have four generations here today," Wagaman said. "Some people say about Rocks being everywhere. We keep them coming."

From octogenarians to infants, Rock family and friends crowded the room to see the portrait by Waynesboro, Pa., artist Donna Bingaman and to pay tribute to Fred Rock, who also served as county treasurer and Guilford Township tax collector and remains a tireless booster of his hometown, the village of Pond Bank, Pa.

Rock was extolled as a door-knocking, flesh-pressing, practitioner of retail shoe leather politics by those in attendance, including George, who sometimes accompanied him on the campaign trail. George recalled a time they went to one house and not getting an answer at the door, went around back, only to surprise a partially-clad woman sunbathing on a picnic table.

"We hit just about every door in the county," George said. "Every promise he ever made to voters, he kept."

George said he did not always agree with Rock, who had a reputation for being tight with a tax dollar. They sometimes clashed over funding for George's office, he said.

Daughter Bonnie Grove remembered her father's "campaign shoes," with pieces of cardboard slipped inside to cover the holes in the soles. She also remembered his helping people get jobs or assistance in an emergency.

"Fred made it happen. He worked hard for what he got," Todd Rock said. "Fred influenced me to run for public office and he laid out a blueprint" for other family members to do the same, he said.

Wagaman said her father also was known as "the singing commissioner," sometimes singing and playing guitar for county nursing home residents.

"Too often in society, we forget to thank the people that preceded us" while they are still around to appreciate it, Commissioner Bob Thomas said. Portraits of late commissioners Joe Ausherman, Dennis Zeger, J. Byers Schlitcher and Paul Bricker hang in the courthouse.

"Certainly, I'm not worthy of this, but I thank you for coming," Fred Rock said. "A lifetime is short, and a lot of time you never fulfill what you'd expect to do."

"There's only so many hours in a day and you do what you can," he said.

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