Chicago’s Terry Gainer Retiring As U.S. Senate Sergeant At Arms
(CBS) — A Chicago native who has been a top law enforcement officer on Capitol Hill for more than a decade will be retiring in a couple months.
WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports Terry Gainer has been the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate since 2007, and before that was Chief of the U.S. Capitol Police for four years.
Having served as Sergeant at Arms of the Senate for more than seven years, he’s been in that position longer than anyone else since World War II.
Gainer has been in law enforcement for 47 years, having been a Chicago police officer for more than 20 years from the late 60s to the late 80s.
“My first assignment as a Chicago policeman was the 1968 Democratic Convention,” he said.
He also ran the Illinois State Police for eight years under former Gov. Jim Edgar, and was second-in-command of the Washington, D.C., police force for four years.
Gainer called his retirement in May the culmination of a “wonderful, blessed career.”
You might best know him from seeing him on TV when he escorts the President into the U.S. House of Representatives for the State of the Union.
“I get a lot of ribbing from my Illinois friends and brothers wanting to know why I haven’t trimmed my mustache a little bit better,” he said.
Gainer said his current office is unbelievable.
“I have an office on the west front of the Capitol, and one day President Obama was in here, and he said, ‘Gainer, you’ve got a better office than I have,’” he said. “I look right down the Mall at the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial.”
Gainer got a chuckle from the president when Obama spotted Gainer’s Cubs poster – not what you’d expect from a guy who was born in Evergreen Park and grew up in Longwood Manor on the South Side.
“I grew up on the White Sox, but somehow morphed to the Cubs, and I hung a Cubs poster, and the president’s staff kept coming in, saying ‘Well, you can’t do that.’ And I said, ‘Well, I can. It’s my office, it’s my bathroom, and it’s my team,” Gainer said. “When he eventually did come in, he just laughed.”
Gainer reflected been his many chances to meet interesting and powerful people.
“When I had a chance to spend a day – a lot of private time – with the Dalai Lama was pretty significant; and merely days later with the Taoiseach – the prime minister of Ireland,” he said.
In retirement, Terry Gainer plans to do some consulting work and to split time between his home in the Beverly neighborhood on the South Side, and a home in Maryland.