Howard Co. Deputy Sheriff retiring his badge after over 42 years

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(ABC 6 News) – The longest-serving Deputy Sheriff in Howard Co., IA is about to hang up his badge.

Deputy Sheriff Darwin Kueker began his career with the Cresco Police Dept. but has spent most of it with the Howard Co. Sheriff’s Office. A total of 42 years in law enforcement.

The 65-year-old said he knew this day would come, but didn’t want it to become a reality.

“I thought I could work forever and ever and ever. I guess I don’t want to say work because it hasn’t been work. It’s been enjoyment,” he said.

“Darwin is a quirky guy. He’s a little different but he’s an awesome guy,” Todd Stephenson, a friend of Kueker and secretary of Cresco Wildlife Club, said.

A surprise party on Thursday night in Cresco was a surprise itself, but it wasn’t the biggest surprise of the night for Kueker. Some of his colleagues and friends took the time to track down his old service pistol from over 20 years ago.

“The guy that we sold it to understood kind of what we were doing, why we wanted to do it and he wanted to help out any way he could,” Howard County Deputy Jacob Hofstra, said. Hofstra was one of the people behind finding the gun and giving it to Kueker as a retirement gift.

“I’m speechless. Speechless about it,” Kueker said.

“You can’t ask for a better friend,” longtime friend and Emergency Management Coordinator for the county Darrell Knecht said. “He’s done so much for the community I can only scratch the surface on all of the things he has done. If somebody needed something, you can count on Darwin to do it. It’s just that simple.”

“He’s very dependable, reliable and we’re really going to miss him. We have big shoes to fill,” Howard County Sheriff Tim Beckman said.

Many friends and community members said there will be big boots to fill.

“It’s been an honor and a pleasure serving them,” Kueker said about the people of Howard County.

Kueker has hope for the younger generations who will wear the badge after him.

“I may not be on the thin blue line anymore but a lot of good fellows are.”

Kueker will do his end-of-watch call this weekend. From there, he said he looks forward to spending time with his wife, sleeping in and trying to catch some fish.