The death of Sheriff Leroy Meadows Friday has saddened former and present members of the law enforcement community, as well as almost anyone who came into contact with Meadows.
Longtime law officer Marvin G. Crawford, now assistant chief of police at Blytheville, issued the following statement on Friday: "The passing of Sheriff Leroy Meadows saddens all of us who knew him. His passing marks a significant landmark within the law enforcement community and to all residents of Mississippi County.
"Remembering Sheriff Meadows even prior to (his) becoming sheriff, as a state trooper assigned to Mississippi County, he was an individual who never met a stranger, treated everyone with respect and dignity and not only felt compassion, but exercised it.
"As a leader, he has led the Mississippi County Sheriff's Department out of the 'manual' age into the 21st Century by acquiring technologically advanced equipment, not only for today's use, but as a building block for future applications to better serve members of the Mississippi County Sheriff's Department and the citizens they serve.
"I call Leroy Meadows my friend and comrade in arms. He will be truly missed."
Bill Crowell, a retired State Police sergeant and Meadows' chief deputy for many years said he and Meadows had spent between 40 and 50 years in law enforcement together.
While state troopers, Crowell was Meadows' troop sergeant.
"I was his boss from 1972 until 1987," Crowell said recently. "Then he was my boss from 1990 to 2004."
Meadows spent many years as the driver's license examiner in Osceola. He did so, because he was both mother and father to his two sons after a divorce, Crowell said.
"He did that so he could have steady hours and raise those boys," Crowell said.
Meadows never raised his voice or got rough with anyone unless it was warranted. Meadows was one of, if not the most level-tempered law enforcement officers in the state, Crowell said. "The same can't be said for me," Crowell said. "But (Meadows) was always there to back me up. He would be right there in the middle of it with me."
The two shared a deep friendship for all those years, Crowell said.
"We didn't agree on everything, but we never got disagreeable. We always got along," he said.
The two also were friendly competitors in the law enforcement field, the retired officer said. "I always kidded him" about his shooting ability, Crowell said of Meadows. "He was a really good shot. And every time we went to a (shooting) match, he'd always beat me."
The sheriff was good to take a joke too.
"His trigger finger had gotten cut off when he was a kid," Crowell explained. "It was just a little bit, about the first knuckle or so on his right index finger," Crowell said.
Officers would use any advantage they could in the competitions, the retired officer said.
"Some guys would shoot with customized guns. I used to tease Leroy and tell him he had a customized trigger finger."
Meadows was quick to tease as well as accept the teasing. He once accepted a dare from a reporter to enter a look-alike contest. He did, and he won, going on to star in a national television commercial with Dave Thomas, founder of the Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburger chain.
Meadows and Thomas became good friends, and remained so until Thomas' death in 2002.
Meadows was known as a friend to everyone, especially his fellow officers.
"He was my friend," said retired State Trooper Mark Dixon. "If I ever needed anything, he was there," Dixon said. "He was just a great friend. He will be dearly missed."
Sheriff Leroy D. Meadows, 73, of Luxora, died Friday, March 27, 2009, in Memphis at Baptist Memorial Hospital from complications related to pneumonia. He was born Sunday, Nov. 10, 1935, in Osceola to the late Paten E. Sr. and Clara Meadows. He was a lifetime member of the Osceola First Baptist Church and a graduate of Osceola High School.
He served 7-1/2 years in the U.S. Army as Military Police and Instructor at the MP Core Training Center. He served 20 years with the Arkansas State Police with 18 of those years in Mississippi County.
He served 2-1/2 years as Deputy Sheriff and was serving his 18th year as Sheriff of Mississippi County at the time of his death. He completed many training courses with the Military Police in Fort Gordon, Ga., and was a graduate of the UALR Arkansas Leadership Program and completed several courses with Mississippi County Community College as well as too many to name with the Arkansas State Police.
He was a Past Master of Osceola Masonic Lodge, 32nd Degree in Scottish Rite, member of the American Legion and Ducks Unlimited. He served as President for the Arkansas Sheriff's Association, seven years on the Board of Directors for the Association of Arkansas Counties and was serving on the Advisory Board for the Black River Law Enforcement Training Academy.
He was preceded in death by his sister, Louise Robinson, and three brothers, Grover Meadows, Paten E. Meadows Jr. and Raymond Meadows.
He is survived by his wife, Vivian, of Luxora; three sons, Derel Meadows of San Diego, Calif., Thomas A. Meadows of Anchorage, AK., and Terry Cole of Osceola; four grandchildren, Allison Meadows, Joseph Meadows and David and John Cole; two sisters, Mary Alice Meadows of Osceola and Dorothy Faye Moore of Collinsville, Texas; and two brothers, Douglas Meadows of Newnam, Ga., and Billy Meadows of Hensley.
The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the First Baptist Church with Brother Jay Weaver and Brother John Childress officiating and Roller Swift Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Interment will follow in Mississippi County Memorial Gardens. Visitation was held at Osceola First Baptist Church Monday evening.
Pallbearers were Dr. Reggie Cullom, Donnie McDaniel, Chuck Lang, Bill Crowell, Sheriff Larry Mills, Sheriff Jim Snyder, Bobby Tucker, Hays Sullivan and Jack Goodman. Serving as honorary pallbearers were the Mississippi County Sheriff's Office Deputies.
In lieu of flowers the family requests the memorials be sent to the First Baptist Church, 2900 West Keiser, Osceola, 72370. An online guestbook is available at rollerfuneralhomes.com.