The Schuster family just keeps coming through for the Dallas Police Department.
Senior Corporal Paul Schuster is a 19-year veteran presently assigned to the Department’s Special Projects/Facilities Management Unit. Senior Corporal Schuster has been, and continues to be, one of the driving forces behind the smooth transition between our old and new police facilities.
His mother and father, Martha and Fred Schuster, are passionate supporters of the Department. During the 1995 and 1998 bond programs, the Schusters’ vocal and infectious support for a new police headquarters was instrumental in making the new Jack Evans Police facility a reality.
In 1999, Fred hand carved a 3’ wooden badge that presently hangs on the wall of the Command Staff Conference Room.
On Thursday, April 10, 2003, Fred watched as his latest creation was hoisted and mounted to the wall of the Media/Community Room by Centex Construction Company employees. Fred is pleased with the finished product. He commented, "I’m extremely proud of it. It helps to make that room."
Fred’s latest creation is an 8-foot, hand-carved representation of a Dallas police badge. The project began in early February of this year as a $1,600 slab of wood that was four inches thick and weighed 500 pounds. In its completed state, the badge weighs approximately 300 pounds and has been painted to match the metallic look of a genuine DPD badge.
According to Fred, he spent over 220 actual working hours on the project. "I did all the work in the driveway of my home. Since it was outside, I had to contend with the weather." And at 83 years of age, that’s no small feat. Senior Corporal Schuster is proud of his father’s accomplishments as well as his outlook on life. Paul said, "I think it’s great that at 83 years of age he can still be a productive citizen and volunteer his time."
Actually, the entire project began when Paul made a request of his father, Fred. Working closely with architects designing the new police headquarters, Paul realized the construction budget would not support badges on the exterior façade as well as inside the facility. "The architect had proposed two badges, one on the outside of the building and another in the media conference room. We couldn’t afford both. It came down to budget," said Paul. That’s when Paul approached his father about the badge for the Media/Community Room. According to Paul, "I knew he had done the three foot badge for our previous media conference room. So, I asked him if he’d do another." Just a tad bit larger, however! Fred said he told his son, "I’ll certainly accept the challenge!"
Fred Schuster retired for the first time in 1981. He had worked as a purchasing agent in the Products Division of U.S. Steel in Beaumont, Texas. He said, "We made containers for the refineries." After that first retirement, the Schusters moved to the Metroplex. Fred began a second career with Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). He worked there for the next seven years.
He seems to be the type of man that won’t back down from a challenge. He’s presently working on a sign for a local church. I asked him what he plans to work on next. He doesn’t have any immediate plans, but he remains open to the possibilities. He said, "As long as I’m able, I’m willing."
As I watched Fred Schuster put the finishing touches on his eight-foot DPD badge, I was reminded of my youth. We would build plastic model cars and paint them different colors. Our attention to detail was intense back then. That same attention was apparent as Fred doted over the 300- pound badge. He touched up the silver braids with a can of silver spray paint. He touched up the blue background with a small paintbrush. And that’s when it hit me. I was watching an artist. It made me want to go out right then and build something. It didn’t matter what. I just had to get my hands on something. I needed to cut, sand, paint or drill something.
The mission of most artists is inspiration. They want to elicit a response. That’s the effect most artists go for. The best pieces of art inspire the observer.
Mission accomplished, Mr. Schuster.