After 50 years of service, Seneca County Reserve Deputy Ray Saalman is still not done. In fact, he's just as eager to serve Seneca County as he was when he joined the ranks in 1962.
Saalman, who is one of 22 reserve deputies in Seneca County, began duties patrolling farm grounds during a period of heavy pheasant hunting. He has done nearly everything since.
"I was asked to help (patrol). That's where it started," Saalman said. "We started doing more work after that with the department after the hunting thing kind of fizzled out."
Ray Saalman is shown in uniform in 2005.
The cake family and friends presented him recently to commemorate the 50 years he has served Seneca County as a reserve deputy.
This family photo shows Ray Saalman with his sons at their home in 1963.
Saalman said his duties as a reserve deputy grew, and as he enjoyed it more and more, he continued to stay.
"I enjoyed working with law enforcement and helping people. It just kind of built as it went," he said. "I enjoyed it and that's the reason I've stayed that long."
During the last 50 years, Saalman has served under seven sheriffs and has seen the full-time deputy roster grow from three to nearly 20. He said during that time, some of the most memorable events included patrolling Boogie Hill, a large music festival that was held in Seneca County.
"We've had some big events like Boogie Hill. That was probably one of the biggest events in the county that required a large number of deputies," he said.
Serving as a reserve deputy is a volunteer position, and for many years, Saalman worked full-time as the general manager at Bascom Elevator. He would serve at the Seneca County Sheriff's Office during his off time.
Saalman, now 79, continued to volunteer after retiring from Bascom Elevator.
"After I retired from the elevator, it was just something to do. I enjoyed it. I liked helping out in the community," he said.
Seneca County Sheriff Bill Eckelberry said Saalman has done a great job serving the community and he continues to be an asset today.
"Ray is a guy you can contact when you need someone and he will step up," Eckelberry said. "He's doing a heck of a job."
Eckelberry said reserve deputies like Saalman volunteer their time at the department and are much like the full-time deputies.
"Basically, they're the guys who help out with department. They have the same authority, they're just not full time," he said.
Like full-time deputies, reserve deputies must be a certified through an Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy and continue to keep up on mandatory training.
Eckelberry said reserve deputies donate as many hours as they can and generally ride along with a full-time deputy, putting back-up for the deputy right in the cruiser.
"They can come in and ride as much as they want with a full-time guy and see all the action a full-time guy sees," he said.
Reserve deputies also work extra-duty details such as the Seneca County Fair, flea markets and gun shows.
"They help us tremendously at the fair, flea markets and parades," Eckelberry said.
Although Saalman doesn't do as much as he used to at the sheriff's office, such as riding with a full-time deputy, he continues to work the Seneca County Fair and flea markets. He also regularly works as a security guard at Kroger in Fostoria.
He said he doesn't have any plans of leaving the sheriff's office.
"I don't really have any set plans as long as I feel I can do that job and my health stays good. If it's good, I'll probably continue a couple of more years," Saalman said.
Cindy Brickner, Saalman's daughter, recently organized a surprise party for Saalman to celebrate his 50 years of service at the sheriff's office. About 100 people attended.
"We really caught him off guard," she said.
Brickner said her dad has always enjoyed serving as a reserve deputy, and for his service, she is very proud.
"I'm glad to see he's able to keep going. It's something he loves to do," she said. "I really think he'll continue as long as he's able."