MARIETTA - On Friday, the Marietta Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol bid farewell to longtime post commander Lt. Mary Pfeifer.
Pfeifer, who has been with the highway patrol for 30 years and has served as commander of the Marietta Post for 14 years, will now oversee 24 counties as the OSHP Commander for License and Commercial Standards.
"It will be a new chapter for me, not that I didn't enjoy the last one," said Pfeifer.
Photo by Jasmine Rogers
Ohio Highway Patrol Marietta Post Commander Lt. Mary Pfeifer, right, goes over reports with administrative assistant Mary Lou Schehl.
She has seen a lot of changes in her years as post commander, Pfeifer said. For one thing, the number of women in the highway patrol has risen greatly.
"When I came on there were six women in the Ohio State Highway Patrol," she said.
Pfeifer's Ohio Peace Officer Basic Training Program class more than tripled that number in 1982, when 13 women graduated from the program.
Though it is not always easy for females in a male-dominated field to be in a position of leadership, several mentors have helped Pfeifer along the way, a favor she hopes to return.
"Somebody has helped you somewhere along the way, so I feel it's my job to return the favor," she said.
Lt. Anne Ralston, Columbus-based public affairs commander for the OSHP, served as Marietta Post sergeant for five years and noted Pfeifer's role as a unifying leader.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Marietta Post," said Ralston. "She's built a great team at the post, a very loyal team."
In her time in Marietta, Pfeifer has also seen a decrease in the number of county-wide drunk driving fatalities.
"I don't attribute that to me. I think more people understand it is a huge issue," she said.
Still, the statistic resonates with Pfeifer, who was injured when a drunk driver struck her on her motorcycle in 2007.
"From a personal standpoint, I wanted to come back to work so bad. But it was a challenge coming back to work after that," she said.
Pfeifer's new assignment will split her duties between the Cambridge and Jackson post locations.
Though she could possibly reside in Marietta and commute to either post, Pfeifer has not yet decided where she will live. Regardless of what she chooses, she will miss spending time in the community that "has become more home than home" to her.
"It's not just the post. It's the community, the EMS people, the fire personnel, your judges, your prosecutors, your defense," she said.
But it is not just Pfeifer who will miss the community - many of those who have known Pfeifer throughout her years of service say they are sad to see her go.
"She was excellent to work with and I really enjoyed the relationship," said former Marietta City Law Director Roland W. Riggs III.
Added Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks, "She's always been a pleasure to work with. We have cooperated between our agencies very well."
Pfeifer's last day as Marietta Post Commander was Friday. A new commander for the Marietta Post has not yet been chosen, she said.
As for her new position, Pfeifer will start today and looks forward to learning the ropes and meeting new people.
"Change is an opportunity for everyone," she said.