New Boston said good-bye to longtime Police Chief Darrold Clark who retired after 47 years of service.
The farm boy from Lewis Co., Ky., Clark he grew up looking up to large men wearing a badge. When he was a teenager, in order to make some money to help out, he got a job in Wheelersburg. He had a neighbor who worked at the steel mill and would drive Clark over. The young boy was working as a ring boy at the auction house, showing cattle, horses and other livestock. Afterwards, the boys would go over the bar for a bite to eat, where Clark was the hot dog eating champion. He remembers being about 15 or 16 and seeing quite an impressive figure for a kid that young.
“This huge man came tromping through there,” Clark said.
The man looked down at the boys and asked how they were. It was the police chief. As a kid, Clark felt a bit intimidated. This man would not be the only large chief in his life.
Years later, Clark got a job working at the old general hospital in Portsmouth, which eventually became Scioto Memorial. Former Police Chief Russ Imes’ wife was in the hospital at the time.
“I was taking care of her,” Clark remembered. “He was sitting by her bed, and I stepped on his foot accidentally. He was a big man. And, he said, ‘Oh, that’s alright son. No problem.’ His wife looked up at me and said, ‘You know, not everybody could step on the police chief’s foot and get by with it. That got me started thinking about police work.”
With the help of Imes and the mayor, who was Vern Riffe at the time, Clark joined the police force.
“I always enjoyed being a police officer,” he stated.
Imes became quite a mentor to Clark.
“Russ was a bit man, but he was all heart. He just didn’t want anyone to know it,” Clark commented. “He taught me a lot. He told me that no matter how much training you have, you must always have common sense. I’ve tried to obey that order.”
Clark remembers many times that he has worked closely with the community.
“During the ‘97 flood, people I had arrested and put in jail, they were out there shoveling mud and helping out,” he explained.
Clark has lived in the community for close to 50 years. In that time, he and his wife have raised two daughters and a son. Though he has had some difficult and even dangerous times on the job, he says that those are few and do not change his love of the community that he has served.
“It’s as close to Mayberry as you can get, and I don’t see anything wrong with Mayberry,” the retiring chief stated. “I’ve been halfway around the world, met people from the other half and have never found anywhere better than New Boston.”
Now in retirement, Clark says he is excited to have time to spend doing little other than working on birdhouses, a favored hobby.
The also Army medical corps veteran concluded, “I spent six years in the military and 47 years as a law enforcement officer married to a hillbilly. That’s the extend of my life.”
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1930.