EXETER — Along with some tears, three friends shared some smiles Thursday when they remembered fallen Brentwood police officer Stephen Arkell during public calling hours at a local funeral home.
Alison MacDonald, Kim Surette and Allison Provost gathered at the Stockbridge Funeral Home as a light rain fell. They were among the mourners who attended the service that was the last scheduled event for the fallen Brentwood officer.
Arkell, 48, was fatally shot by Michael Nolan on Monday May 12 while responding to a domestic disturbance at 46 Mill Pond Road .
Nolan, 47, perished in an explosion that followed, according to police.
MacDonald, Surette and Provost — all Massachusetts residents — hugged each other as they recalled Arkell and his sense of humor.
“He was a nice guy, funny,” MacDonald said, adding that Arkell liked to break dance. “I remember his break dancing — that was the big thing with him. He was so much fun; he was just so kind.”
They all know Arkell’s wife Heather and had worked with her back in the 1990s at a Marshalls in Andover, Mass.
During that period all three women were married and the Arkells attended each of their weddings, they said.
And, yes, Stephen Arkell proudly displayed his break dancing ability at each wedding, they said as smiles crossed their faces.
After working at Marshalls, they all remained in touch through a Facebook site MacDonald set up. Through the site, they have been able to unite in an effort to support Heather Arkell, MacDonald said.
“I’m glad I started that now because people are trying to support her and we can get that information out quicker because of that group I started a while ago,” MacDonald said.
She smiled as she remembered another incident when Heather Arkell still worked at Marshalls. She said Heather Arkell drove an older car to work that was owned by her grandmother. She wanted a new car and preferred that it be green, MacDonald said.
One day, Marshalls employees were surprised when Heather Arkell pulled into work in what looked like a new green car, MacDonald said. They quickly learned that it wasn’t new, but rather the old car with a new coat of green paint Stephen Arkell had just applied.
“He was funny like that,” MacDonald said. “He wanted to make everybody happy; you know, do things for people.”
Other mourners shared their memories of Arkell and his friendly, easygoing nature.
“His smile was just contagious,” Jim Dinneen said after he returned from the funeral home to his parked car.
Dinneen said he would occasionally see Arkell in his neighborhood when he was on patrol. Arkell would stop his cruiser and allow children to flash the lights or hit the siren, said Dinneen, who has lived in the neighborhood for about eight years. Arkell also didn’t mind tossing a whiffle ball with the local youngsters, he added.
“It’s a loss for the town,” Dinneen said. “The only shining light is to see everybody come together and the community really pull behind the family. I just hope that it continues on beyond the next couple of weeks.”
Dinneen said he was amazed to learn that Arkell built a walkway along the Exeter River as a memorial to a child with disabilities who had passed away. Dinneen said he had visited the walkway known as Bree’s Way before but never new Arkell had built the structure until recently.
“He was unbelievable and some of the things you’re just learning about,” Dinneen said.