Friday will mark the end of an era for the Patagonia Marshal's Office, and the beginning of a new one for Paul "Sonny" Showalter.

He will retire after 27 years as a marshal's deputy.

Showalter said that he does not plan to move to a retirement community, nor will he pass his time playing shuffleboard and bingo.

"I'll stay right where I'm at," he said.

Patagonia residents will still see Showalter riding his bicycle and walking his dog. He said that he plans to do more metal detecting, leather work and jewelry work. He also will spend time hunting for arrowheads.

Showalter said that his interest in finding Native American artifacts started when he was a boy. He and his brother would accompany their father when he went target shooting.

"To get rid of us, he told us to go look for arrowheads," he said.

Showalter mentioned that he would like to travel, perhaps to see the Four Corners area of northeastern Arizona.

Although he will be retired, Showalter said that he has volunteered to stay on as a part-time reserve deputy for emergency backup.

Law enforcement careers run in the Showalter family. His father was a United States Border Patrol agent during the 1940s, a range deputy in the Sonoita/Elgin area, and a deputy with the Santa Cruz Sheriff's Office, he said.

Showalter began his career with the marshal's office after working part-time for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office and serving in the United States Army, he said.

He was a small arms repairman in the Army, a skill that he learned at his father's gun shop in Nogales, he said.

Showalter served on a base where new Army recruits were trained. The new recruits would provide a lot of gun repair work, he said.

After his discharge from the service, Showalter worked again for the Sheriff's office. He later began his employment with the marshal's office.

Showalter said that Patagonia hasn't changed a lot, except for new people with new ideas.

The town had a population approximately at present levels until the 1950s, when many people left due to mine closures, he said.

Crime rates in Patagonia haven't changed drastically, either, Showalter said.

Due to its geographical location, the town has many drug and undocumented alien smugglers coming through the area. Even so, Patagonia has been able to escape much of the drug-related crime plaguing other areas, he said.

Not all police work involves apprehending dangerous criminals.

Showalter recalled one of the more amusing calls to which he responded.

One night, at approximately 2 a.m., Showalter received a call concerning a body in the road on Highway 82.

He responded to the call, and, sure enough, there was a man lying in the road.

"I walked up to him, and tapped him in the ribs with my toe.

"He jumped up, and took off running towards Sonoita."

The man, as he ran away, told Showalter that he was headed for Patagonia.

"He was drunk, and laid down in the road because the pavement was warm," Showalter said.

Not all calls involved peaceful intoxicated people. Showalter said that the Big Steer bar, which closed in 2001, was often the source of calls to the marshal's office.

"That place was a fighting bar," he said.

A fight was reported one night outside of the Big Steer. When Showalter arrived on the scene, he encountered a man who had another individual in a headlock.

"He was holding the other man, and punching him in the head."

The subject wouldn't stop the fight, so Showalter sprayed mace on him.

"He just disappeared.

"Poof! He was gone, I never saw him again," Showalter said.

Although the life of a deputy has its amusing times, a law enforcement career may not be appropriate for everyone, he said.

"You have to be dedicated to your job."

"It's certainly not a popularity contest you're going to be entering."

When asked why he chose to be a police officer, Showalter replied, laughing, "Dumb, I guess."

Showalter has been marshal seven times in his career, and has no aspirations to do so again.

The challenges of rural police work are different from those in a larger area, he said. Many people who come to work for the marshal's office don't stay as long as Showalter has.

"Most marshals have lasted about five years," he said.

Showalter said that he would like to see a person who is part of the community as marshal.

"You have to connect with the community."

As he heads for retirement, Showalter wished to say the following:

"I'd like to think I left it better than I found it, for the next guy."