By Elaine Van Develde
He lived his dream.
And for now former Fair Haven Police Chief Darryl Breckenridge, retirement doesn’t mean he’s awakening to any harsh reality — just vivid gratitude.
While he’s been officially off the job since Oct. 1, the chief’s surreal 38-year career culminated in a lucid award-strewn farewell retirement dinner last Thursday.
Roughly 200 state, county and local dignitaries, police and chiefs from several nearby towns, family and friends gathered at Raven and the Peach in Breckenridge’s hometown Fair Haven to celebrate his accomplishments, honor him with certificates and awards — even the key to Fair Haven — party with him and just plain thank him for his service.
“I just love this man!” a teary eyed Eileen O’Neill, widow of former Chief Bobby O’Neill said as she hugged and held the face of the man she knew as the kid her husband took on ride-alongs and mentored .
There were other mentors, too … former chiefs Ricky Towler, Lou DeVito. Then there was, of course, the chief who started it all for a 5-year-old Breckenridge when he stopped at his house to offer his mom a job as a crossing guard — Carl Jakubecy.
Then there was his mom, Dorothy — the woman Breckenridge credits with giving him the “character” to succeed and realize his dream.
“To have a dream at five years old and to actually see that dream come to fruition … Just being a patrolman and being fortunate enough to rise through the ranks of chief of police in the town where I wanted to do so is truly amazing … It’s more amazing when you go back and look at at our country in the 1960s … there was so much turmoil in the world, so much unrest within our country, there were riots on the street and hatred … there was so much uncertainty …”
Breckenridge’s children, Tyler, D.J. and Whitney, stood before their dad, certain of his success and their pride in him. “There aren’t enough words to describe how proud we are of our dad,” Whitney said.
The sentiment was echoed by D.J., who is now Fair Haven’s Recreation director.
He talked about the respect and pride his father, passing down that “character” his grandmother taught, was grateful, not only for the success, but also for the community in which he was raised. That community, Fair Haven, has always been family to him as well, D.J., a little choked up, said.
“I know that it’s very important for him to have all these Fair Haven residents here in addition to everyone else,” he said. “Because Fair Haven, for my dad, was always family and it always will be …”
Yes. Protecting and serving his hometown family was Darryl Breckenridge’s dream. He’s still living it in its second act. Although now, as he told the crowd, “I can let my hair down … Well, I can let down what hair I have.
“For me to have a dream of that magnitude and to be able to realize it … It’s really amazing. It happened because we are in this country. We have the best country in the world. God bless America. God bless you all.”
Congrats, Darryl, from your Fair Haven family!
Don’t forget to click on the lower right icon of the slideshow to enlarge. We had a few photo tech issues. So, in addition to the somewhat compromised quality of some of the photos, we also apologize for the fact that somehow the entire police department ended up looking like something out of a Halloween movie — all white eyes. Who knew? Officers of the Corn? Sorry!