old county jail was once home to the Sheriff and his wife. Just like you'd see
on the old westerns, they fed and kept watch over the prisoners and sometimes
even their families. Any children left homeless by an arrest went immediately
into the loving arms of Judy McCollum.
a group gathered to break ground on a new jail to be named in his honor. As I
approached the group of hard hats crowded near the construction site, I quickly
reached out to hug the Sheriff.
With coolness and composure, he stands 6' 5", and even at age 88 he's the kind
of handsome man who draws attention. He's a sophisticated cowboy with a flair
created by Neiman Marcus and his white Stetson is always part of his attire.
He's known by the name "Gentle Justice", which he earned during the 20 years he
served as sheriff. He was, and still is, trusted among all who knew him including
most of his former prisoners. There are many quick to tell of how the Sheriff
made an everlasting impact on their life.
history has it, one night the jail filled with smoke and the Sheriff led all the
prisoners outside to safety. Unable to house them all overnight, he firmly instructed
some of the prisoners, "You go home and come back tomorrow." And they did.
Just about every parade in our town began or ended with Sheriff Wayne McCollum
on his horse. He distinguished himself as an American soldier who participated
in the D-Day invasion of France. He never likes to talk about those experiences;
but he does like to dance, especially the waltz, and when he was 72 he bought
an airplane so he and his wife could fly together ... which they did.
said he'd never taken vitamins, isn't on any medication and doesn't have many,
if at all, aches or pains. He credits his remarkable health to his early-morning
trail rides with his trusted horse.
He never wanted to live anywhere else and praises the people of Ellis County,
folks he has loved and who, in return, remain his steadfast admirers.
McCollum is a real-life hero ... the kind of man who rides in on his horse to
save the day.
Copyright ©2001 Jeanne