On Saturday, friends, family, and former co-workers gathered to dedicate Schoppmeyer Memorial Park in honor of someone who understood the true meaning of community and giving back.

Chris Schoppmeyer died in 2016, at the age of 59, after a battle with cancer. He died at home, peacefully, surrounded by his family, including his wife, Terri, and children Travis and Erin. When his funeral was held, townspeople and the law enforcement community came out in force to honor him.

On Saturday, he was once again honored because the many who loved and respected Chris wanted a way to do so in a lasting fashion. Schoppmeyer Memorial Park grew from that idea and Chris’ love of the outdoors.

Chris was dedicated to three things, his family, his community and protecting the environment through his law enforcement career. He was a member of the Newmarket Conservation Commission, and co-founder of the Newmarket Fishing Derby along with Richard Shelton. He served 35 years in fishery and wildlife service, at New Hampshire Fish and Game, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA Fisheries Service, as a federal officer.

“He was a character, larger than life,” said Tim Donovan, assistant director of the New England Enforcement Division of NOAA, at the time of Chris' funeral. “He was one of the most gregarious, passionate people I have ever met and he was without par as a conservation officer. He had ethics. People coming up behind him would say he was their inspiration or their mentor. He really broke, no created the mold.”

All this and more made him a role model. Chris could be found on a regular basis sharing his knowledge with local students who might one day follow in his footsteps, in either law enforcement or caring for the environment.

After Chris’ death, Richard Shelton, chair of the memorial park committee, said resident Walter Cheney came to him with an offer.

“He was amazed at the numbers of people who came to the funeral,” said Shelton. “He said, 'We have to do something for Chris.'"

"The original idea was a piece of conservation land, and Walt gave $50,000 to start," said Shelton. "He said if we raised $50,000, he would give another $50,000. We did, and today we have a park, funded privately and not quite finished yet, but it will be.”

Shelton chaired the park committee and Dennis Abbot co-chaired. But it took the work of many volunteers to make the project happen.

Councilor Casey Finch said the town will take over the park, located on Route 108 beside the Newmarket Community Church, per the request of the committee. He said the town will see to its maintenance and upkeep, ensuring it is here for future generations.

Granite benches and a garden are at the head of the park. The land leads to the Lamprey River, where there will soon be a dock. All this would mean the world to Schoppmeyer as the environment and conservation were his passions, as was the law. In fact, the dedication was held to coincide with the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) meeting in Boston, which allowed many of Schoppmeyer’s colleagues to attend.

“It is absolutely incredible to have something like this in his name,“ said Nate Catura, president of FLEOA. “It speaks to his character to who he was. I think it’s a great tribute to Chris.”