Staff photo by Allison Potter
Chief Dan House presents Capt. Teresa Fountain with her sidearm in honor of her retirement from the Wrightsville Beach Police Department on Thursday, Sept. 13, during the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen meeting.
Hard work, determination, attention to detail and a deep-seated concern for her community — each and every person who has worked with Captain Teresa Fountain in Wrightsville Beach used these qualities to describe their coworker at Fountain’s retirement party on Thursday, Sept. 13. A member of the Wrightsville Beach Police Department since 1982, Fountain’s last day on the force will be Oct. 1. Last Thursday her coworkers took the opportunity to express how much she has meant to the department.
“I remember my first day, one of the first things I asked her to do was to help me get to know the community and help me with some contacts,” said Wrightsville Beach Police Chief Dan House. “I think in about three hours she booked enough appointments for me to be occupied for two weeks meeting these different people.”
House said her wealth of knowledge about the community she served, and her active role in charitable organizations like volunteering with soup kitchens and domestic violence shelters, were just two of the many qualities that will make Fountain irreplaceable when she leaves.
“I went through her file the other day just to see how many commendations she had and I think it took me an hour just to read them all,” he said. “She has given the last 30 years of her life to this police department and this town, and we are forever grateful.”
During those 30 years, House said Fountain received 3,376 law enforcement training hours, which is the equivalent of 422 8-hour days. Sergeant C. Kelly is the only officer who Fountain trained during her tenure, and at her retirement party, Kelly said, “Take a dictionary, an encyclopedia and a phonebook and wrap it all into one — that’s T.”
In addition to current members of the police department, a few of Fountain’s former coworkers were also in attendance at her retirement party, like retired lieutenant Hank Naramore, and former WBPD chiefs John Carey and Joe Noble.
“I first met Teresa in 1986 when I moved to the town of Wrightsville Beach and she was really young,” Naramore laughed. “Over the years we worked together and no matter what you asked her to do she was willing to do it and she would finish the job.”
Serving as the police chief when Fountain joined the department, Noble said having a woman join was like a breath of fresh air and that the apprehension some felt about it was quickly remedied because of the professional and exemplary way Fountain did her job.
After former and current coworkers and friends reflected on the way she had impacted their lives, Fountain made sure she reassured those concerned that she was leaving the town in capable hands.
“For those of you that are worried or concerned because all your old friends are going away, look around this room; there are a lot of good people around who are more than capable of doing the job,” Fountain said. “I’m just really proud of who we are.”
While she said her retirement would be bittersweet, Fountain said her friends could still find her on the beach after Oct. 1, albeit in a different capacity.
“I will still be on the beach,” she said. “But probably with my toes up in the sand, which is something I am excited about.”
At the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen meeting that same night, Chief House presented a teary-eyed Fountain with her service weapon and badge for her to keep as a symbol of her 30 years of service to the town.