Bunker Mentality: A personal and fond farewell

A new era will dawn in Culpeper County April 1.

Long­time County Administrator Frank Bossio retires â?? for a second time on March 31.

Frank retired as a Navy captain. He commanded an air base and flew fighter jets from the deck of a heaving aircraft carrier. Now, he heads home having served Culpeper County for 16 years, about 14 as the county administrator. Fourteen years!

He also served as the countyâ??s economic development director and airport manager before being appointed county administrator.

I worked for Frank as the countyâ??s communications manager for a year.

As a reporter, I have had the occasion to interview Frank numerous times. Some of the interviews have been about controversial subjects and others just fun.

Itâ??s natural to assume that relationships between government officials and the press can be, well, strained. The analogy of oil and water seems fitting. Frank viewed it otherwise. In his mind, the press could be like oil and vinegar.

He has always been an example of what I like to call the four â??Aâ??sâ? ­ approachable accommodating, accessible and above all affable.

Among his strongest attributes, besides being an analytical leader, is a wonderful sense of humor.

In this day of revolving doors for appointed government officials, someone serving in a position controlled by politicians for that long is a testament to Frankâ??s interpersonal skills and leadership. He had to keep at least four of his seven bosses â?? the board of supervisors â?? happy at all times. To Frank, that came easy.

He proved very astute and soaked up information like a sponge. He could tackle small or large tasks equally.

He has an unflappable personality.

I remember covering a committee meeting on Sept. 11, 2001 when my pager went off. The message said a plane had struck the World Trade Center. I sent Frank a note, and apparently so did a county staffer. Frank had the chairman recess the meeting and everyone stood in the supervisors board room watching the horror unfold on TV.

I worked as the County Public Information Officer with Frank during the earthquake. Once again his strong leadership and management skills in a crisis situation were unparalleled. Frank can juggle several balls at the same time when it comes to county business.

But not all was smooth sailing for the man with a bushy mustache, broad smile and quick wit.

Years ago after months of debate, the board of supervisors decided to levy a 911 tax on landline phone bills. But there was a problem. Someone in county government dropped the ball and forgot to notify Verizon about the tax. When I asked Frank how the county had been missing months of anticipated revenue, Frank had that deer in the headlights look but quickly took care of the matter.

Frankâ??s sense of humor is legendary.

One day, I was sitting at the round table in Frankâ??s spacious corner office at the county administration building interviewing him and discussing county business. As the conversation progressed or digressed, Frankâ??s language changed to that of a salty sailor. Expletives flew back and forth. Frank was in the Navy and I was a former Coast Guardsman (shallow water sailor to Navy folks).

Suddenly the chairman of the board of supervisors appeared at the doorway. Hearing, what appeared to be a heated and expletive-­laced conversation between the county administrator and reporter, the chairman appeared shocked. We both turned and burst out laughing. It was just two guys carrying on.

Also, Frank can take a joke, sort of. If you want to see the top of his follically-challenged head turn beet red and his eyes bug out, ask Frank how he enjoyed his Air Force career. Navy pilots donâ??t appreciate that.

The county has been fortunate to have Frank at the helm (notice nautical terms) steering the county ship on a steady course for more than a decade.

After years of sometimes contentious debate, Frank helped forge a water and sewer agreement between the town and county many thought impossible to achieve.

Whoever gets selected as Frankâ??s replacement has large, very large shoes to fill.

Frank, I wish you smooth sailing, fair winds and following seas.

Wally Bunker is a freelance contributor with the Culpeper Times. You may reach him at wallybunker@outlook.com