SKOWHEGAN — The good news Thursday during a retirement party for Becky Berry at state police Troop C barracks was that 36 years of secrets were going with her, so they could all sleep well that night, said Col. Robert Williams, chief of the Maine State Police.

The bad news was that 36 years of institutional knowledge, dedication and loyal service also was leaving with her.

Williams, like many other people in the state police command staff, got his start as a trooper patrolling Somerset County as a member of Troop C. He was in Skowhegan for 11 years, from 1984 to 1998.

“She’s great — loyal, dependable, dedicated,” he said. “She’s the type of person who knew all of our secrets and knew when to talk about them and when not to.”

Berry, the administrative assistant to the Troop C commander since 1980, told Lt. Mark Brooks, the current barracks commander, that she was going to retire but didn’t want a big party or anything. The state police had other ideas.

“Becky said she just wanted to finish the day and walk off,” Brooks told a gathering of more than 75 people Thursday afternoon. “But that’s not what we wanted.”

What Berry got was a building full of current and former state police troopers, detectives and investigators wishing her well, along with game wardens, sheriffs department members, former and current employees at the district attorney’s office, relatives and friends.

“This means so much to me,” she told the gathering in the parking of the Troop C barracks on U.S. Route 2. “I’ve seen a lot of people came and go from here. I’m going to miss you all.”

Berry, who had the state police radio call number 350, will be off to Alaska for a vacation.

In delivering a plaque for her 36 years of service, Brooks said Berry was chipper — a smile and a source of encouragement for troopers just coming in for the day or coming back from covering a fatal accident. She was a gem, he said, and will be missed.

“We respect you. We honor you. We love you,” Brooks said.

Berry served under six commanders of Troop C — Arlo Lund, James Cammick, Gerald Coleman, Dale Lancaster, Donald Pomelow and now Brooks.

Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols said he worked for 23 years at the Troop C barracks in Skowhegan, all of them with the woman every calls Becky.

“She’s a life saver,” Nichols said. “She’s been the soul of this place forever. She’s a great liaison between state police and the other agencies. She’s great.”

Peter Hardwick, a former state police detective and longtime state trooper with Troop C, said “Becky was pretty much what kept the place going”.

“People liked her personality. She’s a great girl,” Hardwick said. “She did almost anything for anybody. If you needed something done, you’d ask Becky and she’d get it done. It didn’t really make any difference what it was.”

Berry said when she first was hired for the job, which involved dealing with the public, answering phones and assisting with important paperwork for the police, she didn’t intend to stay very long.

“The day I got hired here and they took me down to Augusta to fill out the paperwork, the secretary said, ‘We need to talk about retirement,'” Berry said. “And I said, ‘No we don’t,’ and she said ‘Well, yes, we do’, and I said ‘I don’t plan on being here too long.’ That was in 1980.”

Well, she said, the benefits were good and she had to work, so talking about retirement turned out to be a good idea.

“Thirty-six years later, here I am.”

Brooks said the job opening will be posted, under state of Maine rules, and he hopes to have someone in the office as soon as possible.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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