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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Retirement suits Suitors after more than 35 years as conservation officer

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kim Suitors poses with his boat and truck as a conservation officer for the county, where he was employed for 35-and-a-half years.
When first asked for an interview about his recent retirement from 30 years of law enforcement service, former Conservation Officer Kim Suitors corrected the figure instantly.

"Thirty-five and a half years," he said.

He said it with a relief in his voice that only comes after years of steady work has ended and it is time to just be. You could also hear, though, that the job meant something deep-seated and important to him.

Suitors arrived at the interview at the Inn at DePauw dressed casually in a Purdue T-shirt and a pair of blue jeans. After 35 and a half years in a uniform, he deserves to where a T-shirt and blue jeans any time he wants. He's earned it.

After going to college in Montana and a two-year tour in the Marine Corps, Suitors returned home to Montgomery County. There, a quick look at a job ad for conservation officers in the local newspaper plotted a course he would follow until today.

Suitors took his first position as a Conservation Officer in Whitley County in the far northern part of the state. This position lasted four years before -- in 1979 -- Suitors made his way south to Putnam County.

"This is home," said Suitors of his adopted county.

The job certainly hasn't been boring for Suitors, who has seen some wondrous sights.

"Over 35 years, people have seen everything," said Suitors of the many odd calls he's received.

"I have had a few people who just swore up and down they'd seen a Sasquatch. I got the complaint and they wouldn't go back into the place in the woods they say they saw it unless I took my shotgun."

While Suitors doesn't necessarily believe that it was a "Sasquatch" they had seen, he grants, "they'd clearly seen something."

Another story involves a more common animal but not in the usual way we encounter them.

"I had another guy who had a tom turkey fly through his bedroom window. Right through the glass," said Suitors, "It knocked a big hole in their wall. Didn't hurt the turkey."

He has also seen a number of natural predators make a return to the area with sightings of bobcats, mountain lions and even badgers.

Not every part of the job is enjoyable.

"We've recovered a lot of bodies over the years," he said of his time as a diver for the county, "One of the bad parts of the job. Especially when it's a kid. That's why I always encourage parents to make sure their children have their flotation devices on, not just nearby."

It seems some things stick with you.

Over the years in the service, Suitors has seen some major changes in the department itself and in our county. As far as the job is considered, one of main changes has been in technology.

"Computers have been the biggest change so far," Suitors said, "When I came on, the only technology we had was a two-way radio."

After enjoying his long years on the force, it is easy to wonder why Suitors chose now to call it quits.

"With the economy the way it is, right now is a good time to go," Suitors said, "We probably have 30-40 openings in the department. A lot of that is this big insurance change. Most of the older guys like me are getting out, so ... plus, the computer. I hated that thing."

Suitors said he will miss his time with the hands-on parts of the job, like going out after spot lighters and training kids in proper conservation techniques. He'll also miss working with the county's law enforcement agencies, which he respects deeply.

When asked what he plans to do with his retirement, he answers quickly and decisively.

"I'm going to fish and play with my grandkids."

Then he relaxes.

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The Great Kimball Suitors,I hope you enjoy your well-deserved retirement! We'll miss "518" on the airwaves.......

-- Posted by kubotafan on Thu, Jun 23, 2011, at 6:23 AM

Enjoy your time doing whatever you choose to do, you have certainly earned it! Thank you for 35 1/2 years of dedicated service.

-- Posted by Bbridgevoter on Thu, Jun 23, 2011, at 9:04 AM

Congratulations Kim...You deserve a break. Now its time to take me fishing in your new boat.

-- Posted by teachman6 on Fri, Jun 24, 2011, at 6:22 AM

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