Chat with ... Susan Barrett, Fairfield native gives back to community
FAIRFIELD — Fairfield native Susan Barrett hasn’t been content to just sit on the sidelines, and this week was no different.
Wednesday afternoon, about 45 minutes before she was to chair a meeting of the Police Commission, Barrett was across the street at Sgt. Thomas Murphy Park on Nichols Street. The occasion was the rededication of the park, where a new sign had been installed.
Murphy was one of the original members of the Fairfield Police Department, and one of the department’s very first school security officers.
Barrett said she learned the original plaque at the small neighborhood park was gone. So was the tree that had been planted in Murphy’s memory, apparently felled by a storm.
“I have known his grandson and the family over the years,” Barrett said, so she spearheaded efforts to get a new sign and a new tree. “Planting a tree is important as a legacy. There are many families that walk to this park, and enjoy the surroundings.”
Barrett said having the tree planted in Murphy Park was a fitting tribute for her own years of service. Prior to being appointed to the Police Commission, Barrett served two terms on the Fire Commission. The park sits next to fire headquarters and across the street from the police station.
The Murphy family, Barrett said, exemplifies the tradition of community service that she has followed. Murphy’s son served as postmaster and his grandson and namesake, Tom, was a member of the Fairfield Fire Department.
Tom Murphy was on hand for Wednesday’s unveiling and rededication, and thanked Barrett for her help, along with Deputy Police Chief Chris Lyddy.
“This is such a ‘Fairfield’ event,” Barrett said of the small ceremony.
Barrett’s own service started off at a parish council, and soon became an opportunity to serve on the Representative Town
Meeting. That turned into an 18-year stint on the Board of Finance, along with a simultaneous term in the General Assembly representing the 132nd District. She was also a teacher at a Stratford elementary school for most of that time.
“I was taught to give back,” Barrett said, and that instinct was what prompted her to make sure a new sign was installed at the park.
Barrett said Fairfield is lucky because many people want to volunteer for town boards and commissions, although many want to be on either the police or fire commissions, since they seem to carry a certain cachet. That, of course, isn’t possible, but Barrett said there is a good program in place for filling all board vacancies.
“You can go and fill out a form,” Barrett said, that allows you to list strengths and experiences. “I found someone to serve on a school building committee who went to that school.”
Barrett is also on a building committee at St. Pius Church, which she recently joined. “I told them I wanted to have some involvement at church, and now I’m on a building committee,” she said.
But another volunteer assignment doesn’t bother Barrett.
“Hey, I have some discretionary time, and I don’t want to substitute teach,” Barrett said. “Now is a good time for me. It’s nice to be able to give back.”