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Sheriff Carver’s police work was a calling, eulogist says

Sheriff Carver’s police work was a calling, eulogist says
Sheriff Carver’s police work was a calling, eulogist says
A two-mile procession of vehicles, mostly police cars, head toward Dogwood following Sheriff William. E. Carver's funeral in Corydon last Wednesday. This view looks north on S.R. 135. (Photo by Randy West)

On a small, windswept knoll, nearly at the front door of a tiny, white frame, picture-postcard church in Dogwood, Sheriff William E. (Bill) Carver was buried last Wednesday with military honors.
Overhead, the cloudless sky was a bright blue. Uniformed law-enforcement officers watched over the graveside service, just as they had at the funeral earlier at the Corydon Central High School Auditorium.
At the school, the Rev. Richard Goodwin, the sheriff’s department chaplain, officiated. Several of Carver’s friends and colleagues delivered eulogies.
Carver, a husband, father, U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War, Harrison County police officer for 22 years and sheriff for three, died Saturday, Sept. 29, of a massive heart attack. He was 50.
Carver’s chief, Rolla Pirtle, will serve as sheriff until the Harrison County Repulican Committee selects a new leader at a caucus Oct. 18. (See related story, this page.)
Carver’s widow, the former Cloris Wiseman, was given the U.S. Flag, ceremoniously removed from the casket and folded in triangles, in memory of her husband’s service. Then, following a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps,” each of the 175 or more visiting police and officers and staff members of the sheriff’s department placed a long-stemmed white carnation on top of the casket. Commander Joe Arnold of the Legionnaires, placed a single crimson carnation (representing a bleeding heart) in honor of the fallen comrade.
“We seldom take notice of the peacemakers who walk among us every day … unless we become a victim,” Goodwin told the gathering at the school. “They ask so little, but give so much.” But, Goodwin said, mourners were called together that day to “honor one such warrior.”
Carver is only the fourth sheriff to die in office in Harrison County history, which dates to 1808. Two others were killed in the line of duty: Spier Spencer in 1811 and William Gresham in 1834. Yandell Babcock died suddenly in December 1928.
Gov. Frank L. O’Bannon and State Rep. Paul Robertson both sent regrets that they could not attend the funeral due to pressing legislative duties in Indianapolis. Goodwin read condolences from former Sheriff Leonard F. McAfee.
Harrison Circuit Judge H. Lloyd (Tad) Whitis, Commissioner Terry L. Miller, Prosecutor Ronald W. Simpson and Capt. Lee Hancock of the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. each spoke of Carver’s life and dedication to his work.
“Bill Carver was a constant,” Hancock said. “He seemingly never changed. He stood the test of time.
“He was the same man last week as he was 20 years ago. He had a boyish, pleasant charm that made it impossible not to like him.”
Hancock pointed out that Carver served on the force since the beginning of each of the current officers’ careers. “He was a comrade, a fellow officer and a friend,” Hancock said. “Bill may be gone, but, certainly, he will never be forgotten.”
Goodwin reminded the audience of the differences between a vocation and a career. “A career puts food on the table,” the minister said. “A vocation means a ‘calling.’ “Bill Carver was called to be a law enforcement officer.”
Goodwin added: “He was a true public servant. He was a positive influence on family, fellow officers, friends and the community.”
Following the service, a long line of police cruisers and vehicles of other mourners almost two miles long filed slowly from the school, past the sheriff’s office at the Harrison County Justice Center, and then south on S.R. 135 to the cemetery at Smith Campground United Methodist Church.
Vehicles from fire departments throughout Harrison County blocked traffic at all of the intersections, and almost every traveler along the way respectfully pulled off the road. People watched the procession from front doors, yards and porches, and business fronts. Farmers stopped harvesting in the fields and watched from tractors. A heron, standing tall and still beside a small farm pond, seemingly watched the cortege.
The procession of 119 vehicles, about half of them police cars, took about an hour for the last car to reach the cemetery.