Longtime game warden protected humans, too
Marvin Peterson, state game warden for Marion County and half of Morris County since 1992, retired in June after a 32-year career.
He said the people he met made his district a good place to work. In return, he was always friendly back, said Neal Whitaker, who worked with him for 20 years as a ranger at Marion Reservoir.
Whitaker called Peterson a friend to people who obeyed the law, and he said he earned the respect and maybe fear of people who broke the law. Whitaker said Peterson had a casual demeanor, but he took his work seriously and didn’t cut people slack when there was a serious issue.
Peterson said what he would miss most about his time as game warden was the people he worked with — rangers like Whitaker with the Corps of Engineers, as well as sheriffs and their deputies. Peterson said he had the privilege of working with many dedicated professionals during his career.
“We’re all working for the same common goal,” Peterson said.
Whitaker said Peterson worked very well with the corps.
“You could always depend upon him, and if something was happening, you wanted him as your backup,” Whitaker said.
Peterson’s responsibilities primarily were enforcing wildlife, fisheries, and boating laws, but he also was greatly involved in safety and rescue efforts at the lakes. He said all of the boat rescues he went on were memorable, but searches for drowning victims were the worst part of his job.
In 2011, the Corps of Engineers recognized Peterson and others for saving boaters on the reservoir that April and May.
Peterson has also assisted with disaster recovery, helping with security around Greensburg after it was devastated by a tornado and with body recovery along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.
“It was rough, but it was good,” he said. “You were down there doing something good for people.
“I could write a whole book on my experiences,” he said.
Peterson also helped with happier efforts, volunteering with hunter safety courses and youth outdoors days. He worked with Whitaker and Terry Holt to establish deer hunts for disabled hunters, which he plans to stay involved with as time allows.
He now works at Ace Hardware in Marion. He said it is different, but he likes it.