Clerks of the Court Darla Marshall and Wendy Larsen are retiring this month and next. Larsen, so far, has not agreed to be interviewed, but Marshall’s sister Diana talked her into the interview. These are the people who keep the official records in the clerk’s office. Some of them are assigned to a judge to keep a record of the official happenings in the courtroom. Darla Marshall serves in the office of District 16 Judicial Court at the Otero County Courthouse.  Larsen is the Court Executive of the entire 16th Judicial District, which includes Crowley as well as Otero County.

Marshall is the jury commissioner. She says she listens when people call in and say they can’t do jury duty at a particular season. Farmers and ranchers have seasons when they can’t leave, such as calving in the spring, so she changes them to a better time.

“We just keep calling until you get scheduled,” said Marshall.

Marshall, who is retiring before retirement age to help her daughter and son-in-law keep their children, one of whom is special needs, is a veteran of 42 years in law enforcement. She is the daughter of Gene and Mildred Marshall of Rocky Ford, and was born in the old Pioneer Hospital, now a nursing home. She has one daughter, Jolin Hall, who is married and living in Akron, Colo. She has two grandchildren, Kami, 7, and Zoie, 3. Marshall will be a live-in Mimi (grandmother) until her house can be built on the property, so her daughter can go back to college.

Darla Marshall went to work right out of Rocky Ford High School in 1975. She started as a 911 operator in Oklahoma City in 1977.

“You can’t believe the stress involved with answering 911 calls,” she said. “People do the most awful things to each other.”

In March, 1988 she moved closer to home at the Fort Collins police, fire and ambulance service center. It is the third ranked call center in the United States.

She is a certified Emergency Medical Dispatcher who can explain how to deliver a baby and treat gunshot wounds. While she was at Fort Collins, she handled domestic violence, hazmat, and hostage situations. In one hostage situation the perpetrator would only talk to her, and she talked him down.

It was at Fort Collins in August, 1992 that she was involved in the situation that was background for her most valued commendation. An officer of her acquaintance sometimes caught guff for always carrying his gun, but in this case, it saved his life and the lives of others. He was in church sitting in a pew behind a woman and her family when the woman’s ex-husband came into the church and forced the family to leave with him at gunpoint. The officer followed the group out the front of the church, where the ex-husband immediately shot his ex-wife, then seeing the officer, opened up on him. The officer returned fire, but sustained three gunshot wounds while taking the shooter down.

“The officer still has one of the bullets in him to this day,” said Marshall.

Since the incident happened on a Sunday, it was some time before the police got word  and came to the scene. In the hospital later, the officer told Marshall, “When I heard you on the phone, I knew it was under control.” She has  treasured his words to her ever since.

In March 1995 she moved back home to the Rocky Ford Police Department, where she worked as Administrative Assistant for two years and nin months.

She has now been with the judicial system for 22 years, starting in December 1997.

“I have seen it all,” Marshall said, “from the 911 call, through catching the criminals, and now the judicial system, where they come up to the counter to get their assignments.” She has been with District 16 court for 22 years.

Now she is ready for the calmer side of life.

“I don’t watch the news. I don’t want to read about crime,”  said Marshall. “I’m ready for the flower part of life. We have Mimi and grandkids plans: we will bicycle, go to the park, walk around. The older grandkid can ride a two-wheeler and I will get a tricycle.”

The only retirement celebration here will be a potluck with her fellow employees. The big celebration will be her Mimi life in Akron.

bmcfarren@ljtdmail.com