Thousands bid farewell to officer Arkell at Exeter memorial service
EXETER — Slain Brentwood police Officer Stephen Arkell was remembered Wednesday during a memorial service at Exeter High School as a caring father and husband who was devoted to his family and helping others.
One speaker after another paid tribute to Arkell and the lives he touched.
Lt. David Roy grew up with Arkell in the same Brentwood neighborhood and the two were lifelong friends.
“The love Steve had for his family was a beautiful thing to witness and I'm glad I did,” Roy said.
Arkell had a way of calming people and acting as a peacemaker in the small town he patrolled for 15 years as a Brentwood officer, Roy said.
“I love you Steve,” Roy said at the close of his remarks. “Till we meet again, rest in peace brother, rest in peace.”
Arkell, was fatally shot by Michael Nolan, 47, on Monday, May 12, when the officer responded to a domestic disturbance at 46 Mill Pond Road. The house was destroyed and Nolan killed in a fire and explosion after the shooting.
The incident prompted an outpouring of emotion and support for Arkell from the community he served and those with whom he served.
In long and solemn lines, thousands of police officers from across New England and the nation streamed into the high school's William Ball Stadium for the service. Some came from as far away as Colorado.
Inside, hundreds filled the bleachers or stood quietly as the procession of marchers line-by-line walked onto the athletic field to sit on folding chairs. The high school was closed for the service.
Bagpipes droned and sharp cadences could be heard as the stadium filled under partly cloudy skies. The officers filed in behind the silver hearse carrying Arkell's casket. After all were assembled, nine Brentwood officers, including Chief Wayne Robinson, came forward to carry the flag-draped coffin to the middle of the field and placed it on a bier in front of the podium.
Gov. Maggie Hassan was first to speak.
"Steve's legacy will likely be of a righteous hero," Hassan said, adding that he also will be remembered as a father, a husband, officer, builder and coach.
Hassan said Arkell set an honorable example to follow by selflessly reaching out to help people in his community and making a difference in their lives.
"This is a classic New Hampshire story," Hassan said.
She said Arkell loved to stop by the popular Brentwood Country Store and Lindy's for homemade donuts and to pick up food for the stray cats he rescued as the town's animal control officer.
Col. Robert Quinn, director of the New Hampshire State Police, followed Hassan. He said all those gathered there not because of the way Arkell died, but for the way he lived.
Arkell was a police officer, master carpenter, and loyal friend, Quinn said, and while he excelled at each of these, clearly what meant most were his family and making a difference for the community.
“He sacrificed his tomorrow so we would have ours,” he said.
William Ball, Exeter High School's athletic director, also talked about the many roles Arkell played in the community.
“What resonated with me is he just wanted to help people,” Ball said.
In a statement to the media, Chief Robinson wrote how Arkell was as wonderful with children as he was with animals. When he was on patrol and saw a group of children, he would stop and talk to them. He would let them sit in his cruiser and flash the lights and hit the siren, Robison said.
“The children of Brentwood loved him,” the chief said.
After the speeches, a New Hampshire State Police honor guard fired a 21-gun salute and "Taps" was played.
A radio dispatcher next performed the traditional "last call" asking “Brentwood 87, please respond” and ending, "we will have the watch from here, may you rest in peace."
The casket was then carried from the bier by the Brentwood force ending the service.
Arkell is survived by his wife of 21 years, Heather (Piper) Arkell and teenage daughters, Kimberly and Lauren.
Public calling hours will be held today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Stockbridge Funeral Home, 141 Epping Road, Exeter.
To donate to the Arkell family, go to www.stevearkell.com.