AUGUSTA – Wednesday’s procession and funeral for Maine Warden Service pilot Daryl Gordon lasted more than three hours at the Augusta Civic Center. It ended with a single lasting reminder of the work Gordon did.

As five law enforcement planes flew overhead, one flew off alone in the traditional missing man formation. As the single float plane circled Gordon’s casket and the crowd of about 2,000 below, a dispatcher called one last time for the fallen warden.

“Last call for Warden Pilot 2202. End of watch. … You have completed your mission … and you have been a good friend. May you rest in peace,” the dispatcher called over a speaker.

Gordon, 60, died while on duty March 24 when his float plane crashed on Clear Lake in Piscataquis County. The crash is still under investigation.

In recognition of his service, all 125 warden service officers attended the funeral in full dress, as did officers from the state Department of Conservation, Maine Marine Patrol, Maine State Police, Maine Forest Service, U.S. Border Patrol, and fish and game departments from as far away as Pennsylvania, New Brunswick and Quebec.

“We’re here because we recognize the sacrifice he made,” said Capt. John Wimsatt of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s enforcement service. “Many of us have a connection with Maine. I went to Unity College to become a game warden. Our work is the same as the Maine game wardens’.”

Fifteen Maine game wardens have died in the line of duty, more than in any other law enforcement agency in Maine. The last death was in 1992.

“I think the very nature of being outdoors, in the elements, makes the job inherently dangerous,” Wimsatt said.

Gordon, a 25-year veteran of the service, was promoted to warden pilot seven years ago. By all accounts, it was a position he relished.

“Daryl Gordon died doing what he loved,” said Edie Smith, director of information for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “Daryl was full of love. His most joyful moments were in the air, using that tool for search and rescue.”

Throughout Wednesday’s service, the traditions of the warden service’s 131-year history were followed, from the honor guard and 21-gun salute, to two wardens remaining with their friend’s body.

“They have been with him since he was recovered from the plane, and they are going to be until pilot Gordon is buried, as a show of respect,” said Deb Turcotte, spokeswoman for the fisheries and wildlife department.

Gordon’s family came from St. Albans to attend the service, and wives of game wardens brought white roses to give to Rita Gordon, to show respect for her husband’s work and ultimate sacrifice.

Dean Varney, the son of warden pilot Richard Varney, who died in 1972, presented the Gordon family with the American flag that had been placed on his father’s casket, and Rita Gordon accepted it.

“The warden service is a brotherhood,” Smith said. “They are strong individuals and when they come together, they are even stronger. They are in a great deal of pain right now.”

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at: [email protected]