Chesapeake High School’s newest Wall of Honor members work in much different sectors — security and law enforcement for Fred Bealefeld, and the sign industry for Paul Gable — but both embarked on their successful careers after starting from similar backgrounds.
While neither Bealefeld nor Gable has a college degree, both come from Chesapeake’s 1980 graduating class.
“A lot of my friends, when I joined the police department, either went operationally and dove into police work or pursued an academic track, which got them promoted and moved through, and I just worked hard,” Bealefeld said. “And I think that came from [Chesapeake]. I think that came from the people I grew up with, the people I came through ninth grade and rode the bus with every day. We were blue-collar kids and all we knew was hard work.”
Gable echoed that sentiment.
“I think hard work matters almost more than anything else,” Gable said. “You can scratch, kick and claw your way from the bottom, no matter where you are in life. I think Fred and myself are good examples of what you can do when you’re willing to work hard.”
The Chesapeake High School Wall of Honor was formed in 2017 to memorialize outstanding alumni not only for their accomplishments at Chesapeake but also for their success after high school. Bealefeld and Gable were enshrined during a ceremony on January 3.
The year 2020 marks 40 years since Paul Gable started his company — known today as Gable — and graduated from high school.
“The company started out in 1980 in my parents’ backyard,” Gable recalled. “It was a simple, small company making handcrafted signs for local businesses — truck-lettering, magnetic signs, banners, posters, small-store front signs — all made by hand.”
Gable, the company, grew over the years and Gable’s younger brother, Matt, joined the team. As the company’s geographical service area expanded, so did its product mix.
“We added electric and architectural signs, commercial signs on a larger scale; we started hiring people, buying equipment, expanding our plant, and before you knew it, we had a multimillion-dollar-a-year business with quite a number of employees.”
Gable said he took a friend’s advice and surrounded himself with good people and learned from them. He credited much of his success to those people, to his hardworking father, to his supportive family and to his former teachers at Chesapeake.
“Chesapeake High School will always, always be important to me,” he said. “I spent absolutely the most important foundational years that I ever could spend anywhere right here in this building. And it wasn’t the building that made this place special; it was the other things that happened here. For example, the classes I was able to take … Electronics, Woodworking, Sheet Metal, Drafting — these were the classes I took that give me a technical foundation and the confidence to go out and start a business one day.”
Gable grew his business in Anne Arundel County, but he also served his hometown county in other ways. He serves on the board of directors for the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation, Baltimore Washington Medical Center Foundation, and the Baltimore Museum of Industry. He previously served on the boards of the Society of Environmental Graphic Design, the Maryland Sign Association, and the Baltimore Washington Medical Center.
The Wall of Honor recognition was humbling for Gable, who said he did not accept it for himself.
“I am accepting this recognition on behalf of everyone I work with at the company,” Gable said. “It’s an opportunity to highlight all of our company’s accomplishments along with my connection to this school, to the town of Pasadena and to the business world.”
After graduating from Chesapeake, Fred Bealefeld joined the Baltimore City Police Department. During his 22 years of service, he ascended from police command staff to deputy police commissioner. In July 2007, he was appointed to Baltimore City police commissioner and he served the citizens of Baltimore for over five years.
“I was successful and got promoted and went from the very lowest rank you can be, police cadet, and wound up 31 years later running the entire place – the eighth-largest police department in the county, with a $400 million budget,” Bealefeld said. “Not bad for a high school graduate.”
Following his career in the police department, he took a teaching position at Stevenson University before earning his current position as vice president and chief global security officer at Under Armour.
“I’m very blessed,” Bealefeld said. “I got a solid foundation here. I was surrounded by peers and students who helped form me. I’m blessed with a beautiful wife, my son and daughter-in-law, my granddaughter … so I’m just very blessed and lucky, and I think this is an awesome accomplishment for my family.”
Photos by Zach Sparks
Paul Gable (left) and Fred Bealefeld (right) were congratulated by Chesapeake High Principal John Yore during a ceremony January 3.