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· Calvin Sheppard (1925-)
Click to see photo of Calvin Sheppard
Calvin and Carol Sheppard are off to vote. It’s Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, 1964, in Hutchinson, Kansas. Finally, on the ballot, the people of Kansas get to decide on an amendment to the state constitution. Will sheriffs be allowed to seek more than two consecutive two-year terms?
“I’m pretty sure the amendment will pass,” said Calvin. “It won’t help us or dad, but it will allow men to come into office, build an organization, and get the best personnel required.”
As if on key, Carol added to the conversation. She and Calvin recalled how his father, Roy, had been prevented from successfully running for reelection after completing Al Severson’s term of office and being elected for one full term. It was similar to when Calvin was limited to serving beyond his two consecutive terms from 1959 to 1963.
“What kind of doctors would you have if you restricted them to a four-year license in your community and then told them they had to move on?” Carol asked.
“I remember watching dad being sworn in at the courthouse in 1956 after being appointed by the governor. Tommy and his classmates from Prosperity School were there too.”
After being elected sheriff for a full term in the fall of 1956, Roy Sheppard hired Calvin as a deputy sheriff.
During the primary sheriff’s campaign in July 1958, Carol Jean Weber and Calvin Masters Sheppard married. Whether Calvin knew it or not, he was following the advice from an early-day sheriff who had advised a newcomer with the responsibilities of running a jail, “If you’re not married yet, get married as soon as possible.”
In January—after winning the fall election—Calvin and his bride of six months moved into Sheppard’s Hotel—a one room apartment adjacent to the jail cells on the fifth floor of the courthouse.
After Calvin won the sheriff’s race, he returned the favor to his father. In January 1959, he hired Roy to be his deputy.
Instead of cooking for two people, Carol became the chief dietitian and chef, cooking for 25 people. Instead of a typical door bell, the sheriff and chef responded to the toot of a bicycle horn.
Calvin Sheppard added an additional layer of security to the Reno County jail when he obtained a German shepherd. When the pup was older, he and Calvin attended—and graduated from—police dog training school. But even before the schooling, Butch was put to work. He was turned loose in the jail corridors at night and sounded the alert when anything unusual happened while Mr. and Mrs. Sheriff were asleep.
On Christmas Day 1959, Carol and Calvin welcomed a baby girl, Beth Ann, to Hutchinson. Shortly thereafter, she joined her parents in the one-room apartment that had a barred, front-door gate.
For Beth Ann’s first six months, she lived in the jail with her parents until her mobility created a safety issue. That’s when the Sheppard family moved back to the free world where neighbors lived in unlocked houses, not locked cells.
“It’s kind of a shame,” said Calvin, “after working for years with the Kansas Sheriff’s Association to change the law on term limits, the first Reno County sheriff who can benefit from it isn’t a Sheppard, but a Heidebrecht—Charles Heidebrecht. We’ll see if he runs again in two years.”
Calvin started laughing at a memory.
“What’s so funny, dear?” said Carol.
“I was thinking about the campaign between us and Sonny Wilson,” said Calvin.
“The bumper stickers?” asked Carol.
“Yes,” agreed Calvin. “Every night Sonny Wilson or his supporters would cross the street from his bar and remove our “Elect Sheppard for Sheriff,” bumper stickers that were plastered on our sheriff cars. They’d replace them with their own stickers, “Wilson for Sheriff.”
“Every morning, after coffee, we’d remove their bumper stickers and attach ours. I guess they thought one day we’d forget and drive around all day campaigning for Sonny. It never happened.”
Until next time, happy writing and reading.
Nice glimpse into everyday life of sheriff family.
Jim Potter says
Thanks, Alex. History can be told in many ways.
Nancy Julien Kopp says
Jim, I love that this history is not plain facts, but instead, show the personal side of all these people. So very well done.
Jim Potter says
Thanks, Nancy. Once I realized I couldn’t write 33 volumes on the former sheriffs, this became one way to scratch a part of their history.