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After 20 years, Marshal Yetter will retire

Corydon Chief Marshal Richard Yetter has decided that 30 years of carrying a badge and a gun is long enough. On Friday, he’ll hang it up.
No one has served the Corydon police department longer — almost 20 years — and no one has ever retired as chief marshal. In fact, no one has ever retired from the Corydon police department.
On Friday, Yetter will turn over the reigns of office to Capt. James Kendall, 44, his colleague of 14 years.
“Richard has done an outstanding job as town marshal and will be difficult to replace,” said town council president Fred Cammack. “He always tries to use a common-sense approach to lower-level offenses, realizing that we all have to live here together after the problem is solved.
“Richard is a family man, which meant that I could always find him at home after hours or on the weekend when I needed him or his opinion.”
Yetter, 52, says he plans to spend more time with his family, and he will do nothing that requires him to wear a uniform. Except, perhaps, on Halloween, when he will be in costume, on his porch, with his granddaughter, Rayna Kennedy, 5.
Looking back on 20 years as a marshal, Yetter recalled breaking up the predictable weekend fights at two taverns that no longer exist, and working 30 hours straight assisting just about everybody during the “Blizzard of 1978.” He got around in a 1977 Pontiac LeMans: “Steve Kitterman put chains on, and away we went. We never had a problem. We went everywhere.”
He delivered milk and fuel oil, took nurses to the hospital, and even climbed hills backward for fun. (Who was there to arrest him?) He chased a few snowmobile-ers and encountered 10-foot drifts.
“The only things moving were four-wheel-drives, my police car and the National Guard. It was a lot of fun.”
In addition to big snows, he’s worked big floods, the most recent of which was March 1, 1997.
That Saturday night it rained about 10 inches. Yetter pulled frightened people out of flooded houses. For a time, he was afraid sewage treatment plant operator Keith Smith and others were stranded at the plant, where both Big and Little Indian creeks come together, and both were coming up at the same time.
As Yetter struggled to make his way to the treatment plant, “I was up to my neck in water.” As it turned out, the plant operators had already escaped. A tractor trailer floated down Little Indian Creek and got stuck at the South Bridge, creating even more flooding in town. The electricity went out as well.
All through his career — the snowstorms, the floods, the countless funeral processions and parades, the car wrecks, the threatened suicides, the child molesters, the accidental deaths and the murders — Yetter said he tried not to take anything personally (“Sticks and stones may break … “), and he always tried to maintain a sense of humor to relieve tension.
His best moment? “Retirement, ha ha ha!,” he said during a recent interview. “I survived 30 years in law enforcement in one piece.”

Yetter was born in New Albany and reared in Florida, Texas, New York and New Jersey, mostly New Jersey. His father, Owen Yetter, was an airline pilot for Pan Am and a drive-in movie theater operator. His mother, Beryl, was a war bride from Brisbane, Australia. His grandfather, Russell Yetter, had three restaurants in Corydon. The last one (where the specialty was frog legs) was where Marcus Burgher III and IV have their law office on East Chestnut Street.
Yetter’s law enforcement career started in 1971 as a policeman in the U.S. Air Force. After his military career, he joined the Corydon police force in September of 1977, working under Leonard McAfee. He stayed for just over a year, then became head of security for Consolidated Sales in Louisville.
Three years later, Corydon town council chairman Fred Cammack asked Yetter to come back here. McAfee was running for sheriff. He won, and when McAfee took that office, Yetter became chief marshal, a position he’s held since.
When Yetter retires Friday, his wife, Marsha, 47, has plans for him.
“I’ve got 60 days, and then I gotta do something,” Yetter said.
He’s already started a list of things he won’t do. He won’t work at Wal-Mart, substitute teach or do anything that involves a gun, badge or uniform.
Yetter and Marsha have two children: Jennifer Kennedy, 25, Clarksville, who works for Humana, and Nathan, 23, Corydon, a computer operator for WAVE-TV.
“My family was always my hobby. Everything I’ve ever done was always with my wife and children.”
Yetter said he was disgusted with child and spouse abuse cases, but he was pleased to have been able to solve a lot of criminal cases.
“I wasn’t in it for the glory. I really believed I could help people; I believed I could do it, so why not?
“God, I worked a lot of wrecks,” around 2,000, and he figures he saved a lot of lives.
“I’ve always kept my sense of humor. I’ve always tried to make people laugh in the worst of situations.”