"When you would see young fellows come back and thank you for coming down on them and change the direction they were heading, that was something. And, it did happen," said Keenan. "Unfortunately, we did have a lot of cases like that in this town, but when you do send a few to jail and that wakes them up. They realize that's not what they want to do."
"It doesn't turn them all around, but it's nice when you see the ones it does and they come back to tell you that," he added.
What Keenan will miss most about being a town justice is the people, he said. Dozens turned out to surprise him with a retirement party at Cricket's Restaurant Dec. 16. Those who were there or who sent him well wishes are the ones he'll miss, he said.
"And, of course, my court clerk," Keenan said, referring to Donna Redden, who has served with him all but about nine of his 24 years. "She's been a big help to me and she made my job so much easier. "
As for his retirement, Keenan said he has no formal plans other than to spend more time with family, including his wife of 53 years, Maryann.
"It's just time not to be tied down for once," he said. "Maybe in a few years, I might change my mind. But, for right now, it's just time to not be tied down."
James P. Kirby, who was elected by the voters in November to succeed Keenan, will assume the role of town justice Jan. 1.