BEFORE legendary Philadelphia Police Civil Affairs Chief Inspector George Fencl passed away in 1985, he shared a personal fear with his wife, Joan.
"He always said, 'Nobody will remember me after I die,' " she said.
Last night, as the Daily News and the Police Department marked the 25th anniversary of the Fencl Award at Swann Caterers' Waterfall Room, in South Philadelphia, it was obvious that not only does Fencl's memory live on, but it also is carried on by the officers who serve the department he loved.
Last night's award winner, Richard "Butch" Riddick, said he was "honored to be mentioned in the same breath as Inspector Fencl." Riddick works in the 12th District, 65th Street and Woodland Avenue, Southwest Philadelphia.
Riddick, 55, was honored for the attributes that Fencl embodied - compassion, fairness and civil commitment.
Riddick and his partner, Mark Moore, worked together as kids, shining shoes at 52nd and Market streets. Moore said the city got a "gift" when it hired Riddick 18 years ago, although Riddick said the award "could have gone to either one of us."
In his remarks, Commissioner Charles Ramsey said that last night's three honorees - Riddick and the runners-up, 12th District Lt. George Holcombe and Highway Patrol Sgt. Mike Walton - are three people who "just scratch the surface" of the work being done in the department.
Ramsey said Riddick embodies an "old-school" type of policing, one in which he treats every person he comes into contact with with respect, just as Fencl did.
Mayor Nutter said that police work is "tough" and that "Philadelphians aren't the easiest folks to get along with out on the street."
"I run into characters from time to time, but it's nothing like what these guys deal with on the streets every day," he said.
Walton, 54, who soon plans to donate a kidney to his brother George, said little upon accepting his honor, but showeda picture of his brother, who couldn't make it because he was on dialysis. "He couldn't be here, so we brought him along," he later said.
Holcombe, a 20-year-veteran, thanked those who wrote letters on his behalf, but said that policing was a "team effort."
"What we do, we do it together," he said. "It just so happens, I'm blessed enough to be in the front this time."