Oklahoma Lawman Retires After Half Century Of Service

Sunday, January 20th 2013, 11:50 pm
By: News On 6

A former U.S. Marine, state trooper and sheriff is taking off his badge after serving the people of Oklahoma for more than half a century.

Harold Berry of Locust Grove was honored by friends and family at a special event in Pryor this weekend.

After 51 years with a gun on his hip, Harold Berry is retiring.

It's the end of an era.

"He the person I always looked up to the most," son David Berry said.

Harold's kids had their hands full keeping the party a secret.

"That was the biggest surprise I have seen, since I can remember," Harold Berry said.

The former law man was presented with a citation from the state, highlighting his more than have a century of service.

"The senate of Oklahoma extends to Harold Berry congratulations," Oklahoma state senator Kim David said to the crowd.

The presentation wasn't short. It took a while to cover half a century of service.

Harold started his law enforcement career on the USS Oklahoma City and served as a U.S. Marines police officer.

"Wound up in Vietnam, hadn't planned on that one," he said.

After returning home, he worked with the Cherokee Sheriff's Department and Tahlequah Police Department."

In 1970, Harold joined the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

"I spent my 22 years there and enjoyed every minute of it."

Later, he was elected sheriff and served on the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

But, he said, it was during his time with OHP that he experienced something that will stay with him for the rest of his life.

"The Girl Scout camp and Camp Garlin," he said. "I was the first officer on the scene."

Three young Girl Scouts, murdered less than a mile from his home.

"That was a hard time, and hard for all the people in our community, and a lot of people looked on him for strength, and they have for years," daughter Tammy Cunningham said.

In 22 years as a trooper, there were light-hearted moments too.

Like the night out on patrol, when he ran across a drunk driver who passed out on the side of the road.

"I reached in and got him by the boot toe and the heel and pulled on it, and it came off," Harold Berry said. "He had a peg leg.

"And I thought, ‘Oh, Lord, what have I done,' and I went to try and shove it back up on ‘em.

It was just one of many stories shared by old friends on a night dedicated to a man who held many titles over the years.

"I put on a gun in 1961, and I took it off in 2013," Harold Berry said.

But maybe the most important title is that of a loving husband and father.

"I've always said if I was half the man he was, I'd be a hell of a man," David Berry said.

As for what he plans to do now,Berry said he'll spend most of his days on his ranch, with his kids and grandkids.

"He finally gets to enjoy what he's worked so long for," Cunningham said.