Riding in Mayberry

As soon as Rick Fronberry read the riddle, he knew the answer was in the area of the Kickapoo River and more specifically, La Farge, Wisconsin. The region is a favorite riding turf for him and his bride of 43 years. Rick provided the fifth correct entry and we talked shortly afterward by phone.

Rick and his wife Carol live about 11 miles due west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in a suburb voted America’s best in 2014 by Business Insider magazine. The village of Elm Grove boasts almost 6,000 residents in roughly two square miles. The inviting wooded landscape, absence of streetlights and few sidewalks leaves Elm Grove with a hometown feel Rick describes as “a wonderful place to raise a family.” Rick ought to know, having grown up within two blocks of where he makes his home today. He likens Elm Grove to the fictional Mayberry of the 1960s television program The Andy Griffith Show.

Rick’s been retired for several years, but his career was in commercial banking, working with local financial institutions. He was quick to mention it wasn’t banking in the model of Wall Street, but involved “smaller corporate sales; up to $50 million.” He explained, “My goal was to grow the client’s business.”

While Rick worked outside the home, Carol took care of the household and their brood of young Fronberrys. According to her husband, Carol has been and continues to be “a volunteer extraordinaire.” She was a regular fixture at the schools of their four children from grade school to high school. Knowing so many of their kids’ friends back in the day meant the Fronberry home would often serve as neighborhood gathering place. Rick and Carol were reminded of the dividends of those connections recently when one of those boys, a regular at the Fronberrys’ in youth, just showed up at their door. Rick explained, “He’d just gotten engaged and wanted us to meet her.” It was easy to tell how much that meant to the couple.

The Elm Grove of Rick Fronberry’s youth may well have planted the seed for a love of riding. A neighbor just across the street rode to work daily and dirt bikes were regularly used nearby. At 18, Rick’s first bike was a 350 Honda, then a ’78 Kawasaki 650 SR. He still owns the KW today. It was 2002 when the first Harley-Davidson came home to the Fronberry stable. Now on their third from the Motor Company, there’s a story to share.

Carol is an enthusiastic rider, but holds no interest in riding her own. When Rick asked if she might like to ride solo, she asked him, “Are you kidding? Why would I want to do that?” Rick admits that it’s Carol who suggests going out for a ride most often. “She’s an inspiration there,” he said. She’s also the inspiration for their purchase of a 2012 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited. It seems that Rick and Carol were perusing the dealership rows of iron horses, him trying a few on for size in the comfort of the showroom. He was attempting to be mindful of their pennies, as even folks who don’t have-to tend-to when retirement arrives. He’d not yet straddled a bike within the row with dressers when Carol spotted the 2012. She nestled into the comfortable rear seat, tried the armrests and decided it was a mighty nice perch. She let her husband know what she thought, suggesting he could take his time and shop some more, “But this is the one we’re getting.”

Like many of us, Rick carries a smartphone with him when riding, when on a bicycling or on foot in his walkable community. If Carol isn’t along and Rick needs to connect, after awakening his device with a “Hey Siri,” Rick tells it to “Call the Love of My Life.” Although it may get a rise out of folks overhearing, making those calls is second nature to him by now; just his happily wedded truth.

Carol and Rick are enjoying an active retirement now, spending a great deal of time touring their home state on the Ultra, riding the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and points farther afield.

They split their time between riding, time with friends, solo outings, and operating what Carol and the grandchildren call “Grandpa’s Daycare.” The role that name implies for grandpa suits Rick just fine. “Carol raised four, and now it’s my turn.” He explained, “I grew up with a father and grandfather who loved kids,” and he imagines it must have rubbed off. With seven grandchildren under nine years old, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are scheduled with little ones. Little ones, that is, with the love of his life nearby. 4


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