Name: Francis Abernathy III
Occupation: Chief of police; town leader
Place of birth: Ashland, WI
How long have you been town leader?
As long as I’ve been chief of police, and that’s more than thirty years now.
What made you decide to become a police officer?
I’ve always wanted to help people. I wasn’t smart enough to be a doctor, or devout enough to be a priest, so it seemed like the right call. I love this town and I want to protect the people in it.
What would you have done instead?
I suppose I probably would have been a schoolteacher, like my wife and my son. I could have taught gym – I was quite an athlete in my day. I was never good enough to go professional, but I have could have taught the kids at the high school a thing or two.
What’s the one thing that makes you proudest?
My kids. They’ve all done so much with their lives. My oldest boy is a high school principal, the middle one is an architect and my daughter is a lawyer. They got their brains from their mother and I always taught them to aim high. I’m glad they didn’t settle.
When were you happiest?
On my wedding day, and on all the days my kids were born. I never felt more content than I did then.
What’s your biggest regret?
That I settled. My father always drilled it into me that I had a duty to this town and I’m proud that I’ve lived up to it. I’m glad I raised my family here, too – it’s a fine thing knowing they’ll always be a part of the history here, and it’ll be part of theirs. But I’ll always wonder if I could have done more if I’d moved away. I wonder if it would have been better for Lizzie, my wife, too. She’s always had more talent than she could use in this town.
What’s your greatest fear?
That I’ll never be able to see justice done for Sarah McIntyre. I know who killed her now, but there’s always a chance a jury won’t convict. That girl deserves more. She deserves peace.