HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — He has captured bank robbers, helped put a kidnapper behind bars and escorted a President of the United States across Washington County.
So when it came time for Richard W. Poffenberger Sr. to retire, he wasn’t sure a life of leisure would suit him.
Not after spending 37 years as a Maryland State Trooper.
So he did what came naturally. He returned to law enforcement.
Poffenberger is a volunteer with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
On any given day — or night — he can be found patrolling the Potomac River or making his way through dark forests at 2 a.m. to catch poachers.
It’s just another way the 75-year-old Hagerstown man does what he does best — protecting the community from those who break laws.
Poffenberger said he always wanted to become a state trooper, but after graduating from Hagerstown High School in 1953, his artistic talents landed him a job with Fairchild Aircraft as a technical illustrator.
“It was a real good job,” he said. “I was making great money and had a world of opportunities ahead of me.”
But there was one problem.
“I always wanted to be a trooper,” he said. “One day I asked myself, ‘Do you want to sit at a desk all your life or would you rather be outdoors doing what you really want to do?’”
Poffenberger decided to pursue his dream and in 1960, joined the Maryland State Police.
“I considered it an honor,” he said. “That’s something that never changed. I always thought it was a privilege to be a state trooper.”
Though he will tell you he spent those years just doing his job, Poffenberger has a wall of commendations and awards that prove otherwise.
There is a Governor’s Citation, a certificate of honor from the U.S. Department of Justice, a plaque from the FBI and numerous honors from area organizations.
“I’m right proud of them,” he said.
Poffenberger said he saved a couple of lives during his career and, on occasion, saved his own life.
“I’ve had knives pulled on me, had hippies try to dynamite my house and was shot at during the ’60s riots in Baltimore,” he said. “After 37 years, I have a lot of stories to tell.”
Those three decades of service earned him a special honor at his retirement in 1997, he said.
“It is the most number of years served by any state trooper in the State of Maryland,” Poffenberger said.
Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., http://www.herald-mail.com
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)