She was first female troop commander in state history
There were plenty of tears and lots of laughter at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop I headquarters in Rolla Friday.
Capt. Lee Ann Kenley, commanding officer of Troop I, is retiring June 1 after close to 30 years with the highway patrol.
"All of you here have been an important part of my career and I can't thank you enough for coming," she said to a packed meeting room.
Kenley began her career with the patrol in September of 1985 as a member of the 57th Recruit Class.
"I have been blessed in my career. I came on when there were very few women," she said.
Since joining the state patrol, the number of female troopers throughout Missouri has almost doubled.
In 2008 she became the first female troop commander in state patrol history.
Much of her career was spent in narcotics and investigations.
Missouri State Sen. Dan Brown, of Rolla, was on hand to recognize Kenley on behalf of the Missouri Senate.
Sandy Karsten, one of Kenley's classmates from the academy, shared a number of anecdotal stories of Kenley's undercover work as well as a story of how she saved the life of an elderly woman for which she received a letter of commendation from President Ronald Reagan.
I have enjoyed so much of my life, but most of it has been here at Troop I,” Kenley said. “You guys are everything, You are an important part of me."
Her replacement will be announced later.