Weekly Local Biography

 Frank Weicks

 

Rotarian Frank Weicks is an American who holds old-fashioned values dear. He laments the changes in society that have made concepts such as ‘loyalty’ redundant but has found that many of the concepts that have been forgotten in the USA are still ‘alive and well’ in Chiang Mai.

Frank came from New Orleans, in Louisiana, and has the “Nooo Awrlens” drawl to go with it. That should be “proudly” from New Orleans. “It’s a great town, known for wonderful food and music. Our food is Creole. It’s much more refined than Cajun,” I was immediately told.

His background was Irish Catholic (both grandmothers) and German (both grandfathers) and he was given a Catholic education. His parents were not well off and typical of the era, he was part of a large family - Frank being one of five.

In those days, it was also typical for at least one of the boys in a family to join the priesthood and Frank went to study in the seminary with the Benedictine monks. However, after two years a cataclysmic event was to happen in his family - his infant brother was a victim of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Frank gave up religious studies to come home to the family and be of assistance to his bereaved mother and father.

His next career interest was Physical Therapy (AKA Physiotherapy), but the closest university where he could study that specialty was too far away (and too expensive) for Frank’s family to entertain. So he went to the local university in New Orleans where he graduated in History. During his undergraduate time he worked in a food store to help pay for his tuition, and any surplus went to his parents.

After graduation it was the time when America was involved with the Vietnam problem. Frank enlisted for the Army, was drilled and made ready for conflict, but two weeks before going had to return home to again be of comfort to his family, his father suddenly dying of cancer at age 44.

After the family settled, the New Orleans Police Department were recruiting, so Frank applied and was accepted. After spending a year in uniform on the beat he was transferred to the Juvenile Squad as a detective, where he was involved with children, both as victims and perpetrators of crime. This took up the next 7 years of his life.

As the concept of segregating victims and those who were miscreants became more logical, a Child Abuse section was formed and Frank became one of the pioneers, where he was involved in the writing of the first child pornography laws for the State of Louisiana. He became very much an expert in the field, certified as such for the American court system.

For someone raised with old fashioned values of right and wrong, Frank had many harrowing experiences in this line of work. He even had to arrest one of his superior officers who turned out to be a paedophile. “It made me physically sick to catch him in bed with a young boy.” For reasons such as that, after 11 years he was burned out. “I’d seen too many children raped or killed,” he said as way of explanation.

He applied for a transfer, which was initially refused by his section commander who did not want to lose him, but Frank knew he had to move on. He filed his application higher up the tree and joined the Narcotics Department. Here he stayed for 8 years. He found that his experience with the Juvenile Squad came to the fore again - the drug dealers he was catching were the juveniles he had been involved with many years previously!

However, after 20 years with the police department, he took early retirement. “Some people stay too long. I wanted to leave with a good taste in my mouth.”

He was then recruited for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as an Intelligence Analyst. “For the first time in my life I had weekends and holidays off.” He applied his skills and knowledge and when the DEA was looking for someone to join the Chiang Mai office overseas, this was offered to Frank. Neither he nor his wife had been to S.E. Asia, but all their five children had grown up and left home, so they took the plunge. After accepting the offer, the next 8 months were spent in Washington! Reason? To learn Thai!

Finally they arrived here and it was very different from anything Frank had experienced before. “I felt like a rookie again. The work was very enjoyable, but totally different from law enforcement in the United States. My work involves being an analyst and advisory work, not arrests!” He is now so much at home here in Chiang Mai, that when he finally retires, both he and his wife have plans to settle here. “It’s like stepping back in time in some ways, back to the Mom and Pop businesses. There’s so much appealing here.”

So what does a law enforcement officer do for hobbies to break the tensions of work? For Frank, his first reply was “cooking” where he said, “I am a good New Orleans cook. Most of the men in Louisiana cook.” This explained the discussion we had at the start of the interview when I was given the essential differences between Creole and Cajun! He also enjoys tennis and fishing, “I’ve caught a few alligators in my time.”

Frank does not measure success in monetary terms. “It’s a feeling within yourself that you have contributed in some way to making society a better place.” He is a great believer in making common sense your guide and avoiding being too legalistic. His old-fashioned nature is seen with his advocacy of contributing to society, not just taking from it, and he is involved in charity work, particularly with child education in Northern Thailand.

We need the Frank Weicks of this world - Chiang Mai is fortunate to have him.