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
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.