They said it would never happen. But it finally did.
Police Capt. Leon Holman, University Park’s longest-tenured employee, hung up his hat Tuesday at a retirement party packed with old friends, family, and doting colleagues.
When it came to retirement, “nobody ever thought I’d do it,” Holman said, grinning as he mingled with his guests.
The administrative captain began working for University Park in 1975, after several years with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department. He soon moved up the ranks — to detective, sergeant, lieutenant, and finally captain in 1987.
Police Chief Gary Adams wasn’t sure what to do about a parting gift, he joked in front of the crowd of well-wishers on Tuesday, so he brought the plastic nameplate from Holman’s office door.
Susan Holman presented her husband of 36 years with a well-loved oven mitt full of utensils to help him pass the time at home. And their daughter Katy flew in from Houston with their towheaded, 14-month-old grandson, Tyler, as a surprise. She even called first to tell her Dad she couldn’t make it.
His mellow response: “What’re y’all doing here?”
Holman has been “the best boss I could have ever had or wanted,” said Sgt. John Ball, echoing the words of many colleagues. “He was always there for me, and he always took care of me.”
The retirement an-nouncement didn’t come out of the blue, said longtime friend Bill Roberds.
“He’d talk about it,” Roberds said with a chuckle, “so we’d ask him what he was going to do [instead]. Then he wouldn’t talk about it anymore.”
Now Holman has time to perfect another passion: his golf game.
“He’s just not going to stay at home,” Roberds said, shaking his head.
Soon enough, someone will have to fill Holman’s big shoes at the University Park Police Department, overseeing support services that include crime prevention, animal control, warrants, and evidence. The selection process will begin soon, city spokesman Steve Mace said.
In the wake of Holman’s retirement, Mike Bracklin, a code enforcement officer who has worked in University Park for more than 37 years, has bragging rights as the city’s longest-tenured employee — for now, at least.
“It’s kind of like being the oldest person in the world,” Mace joked. “It’s a great honor, but it doesn’t last all that long.”