Small town suits Marshal

By Leyla Knight The Tombstone Epitaph

Marshal Max K. Hurlbut, 59 next week, has led a life of public service that has included everything from arresting a drunk horseman in Tombstone to nabbing a terrorist bomber at Los Angeles International Airport.

Born in Worcester, Mass., Hurlbut, can trace his family tree all the way back to the 1630s.

His family moved from New England to California when he was 8, and his life has been anything but idle since then. Hurlbut has studied geology, police science and police administration. He received his doctorate in military science from Kensington University in Glendale, Calif., in 1980. He holds a lifetime teaching credential from the California Board of Education to teach police science.

Hurlbut began 25 years of service with the Los Angeles Police Department in 1960.

During his work in the Los Angeles department, Hurlbut captured a Yugoslav immigrant terrorist, Muharem Kurbegovic, known as the "Alphabet Bomber." Kurbegovic was arrested in 1974 after a bomb he planted at the Los Angeles International Airport exploded and killed three people.

Hurlbut took leave from the LAPD in 1961 to join the Army and served in the military police, military intelligence and special forces before returning to the California department in 1962. He retired from the military as a reserve lieutenant colonel in 1992.

The marshal met his wife, Hueih Hueih, pronounced Way Way, the daughter of a colonel in the Chinese Nationalist Army, when he was working for the U.S. military in Taiwan as an adviser to the Nationalist Chinese Army Special Warfare Command. They married in Taiwan in 1982.

"Hueih means orchid in Chinese, and repeating the name is for endearment," Hurlbut said. After leaving the LAPD, Hurlbut and his wife moved to Kodiak, Alaska, "to get away from the big city," he said. He worked there as chief of police.

"After LA, I swore I would never work for a town that had a stop light again," Hurlbut said. Kodiak had none. He also worked as marshal in Whittier, Alaska, a town with no traffic lights or road access. In Alaska, he also worked as a volunteer firefighter, a rail-ambulance driver and an emergency medical technician.

Retiring from his Alaska job in 1996, Hurlbut made his way down to Tombstone, a town he had frequently visited since 1973 while he was on active duty teaching and training at Fort Huachuca.

Hurlbut was invited to become marshal and was hired last July.

It was "the only police job where I was asked to take it," Hurlbut said.

His love for history and trouble-shooting small police departments prompted him to accept the job. Since moving to Tombstone with Hueih Hueih and their 13-year-old cat Poopie, Hurlbut has made the following improvements and changes to the marshalÕs department:

"I don't just cover it up," he said.

Hurlbut said he has seen a significant decline in the crime rate in Tombstone since July 1997, when he became marshal.

"I donÕt want to take credit for the decrease, but we have been running about half the amount of calls (for police help)," he said.

Hurlbut said he also has initiated an "open-door policy" for his department. "My home phone number is listed, which was not done before" by previous marshals, he said. Sometimes his home phone rings as late as 10 p.m. with calls from citizens seeking his help, but Hurlbut said it is all part of his job.

When Hurlbut is not on duty, he enjoys looking for rocks with his wife. He also delights in reading historical fiction or detective stories. Another of his passions is photography.

When asked if he has settled into his job in Tombstone, Hurlbut said his job security is very unpredictable because the city council can fire him anytime.

"All they can do is send me back to a contented retirement," he said.

"I set an example and expect my deputies to follow," he said, "and I do what I think is right."




1998UA Department of Journalism