September 10, 2014 Edition

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Sheriff Vic Hanshaw remembered

John Bland

Victor "Vic" Hanshaw of Walnut Ridge, a former Lawrence County sheriff and state trooper, died Saturday at the age of 89. His sons, Kenny Hanshaw of Walnut Ridge and Mark Hanshaw of Harrison, recalled their father's life and his time in law enforcement. They couldn't reflect on their father without also remembering their mother, Roberta Hanshaw, who died just 14 months earlier on July 22, 2013.

Vic and Roberta were married 59 years. "It's hard to let go of them both in such a short time," Mark said. Vic seemed to be adjusting relatively well to her death, but after that many years of marriage, it must have been difficult, the Hanshaw boys said.

Until just the past two weeks, Vic had been fairly healthy, driving himself to Jonesboro to the doctor and getting out in town often. Not a bad record for 89 years.

"He was a great father," both sons agreed, with Kenny adding, "He had to be (great) to put up with me and my brother."

Before being elected Lawrence County sheriff, Vic had been a state police officer. Having moved to Walnut Ridge from Siloam Springs, the Hanshaws didn't want to leave extended family here again, so Vic resigned from the state police force before being relocated.

Raised during the Depression, Vic's parents lived and worked in Memphis, and Vic lived with an uncle, Calvin McLaughlin in Black Rock. Vic told his sons that he would get "one or two shots" to kill wild game for their food. It was no coincidence that Vic won the state police pistol-shooting contest a number of times.

Just recently, Vic shared a story with Mark about seeing, years ago, the last steamship that came up the Black River and watching it load up with cargo.

Vic and Roberta were a team in the sheriff's office, with Roberta serving as secretary. Kenny recalled waking up in the morning and missing a pair of blue jeans only to learn that his mother had taken them to a prisoner who had none. "She took them clothes up there and treated them like her own kids.

"Even after prison, some (former jail inmates) came back and thanked her for being so nice," Kenny added.

"They took care of the prisoners," Kenny said, adding that it was a different era and there was no meth then. "He was pretty easy going; he didn't want to ruin a person's life with a felony record if he could help it," he added.

"Dad was a good man," said Kenny. "Dad said he never took a penny in campaign money. He didn't want to owe anyone favors."

Mark recalled that his father "hardly ever wore a gun." Vic would say, "Those things just start fights."

"He always considered himself a peace officer," Mark said.

Vic's sons also agreed that their father generally wanted to help people and believed in using common sense when dealing with them.

Doug Wayland of Walnut Ridge, who is a member of the Lawrence County Quorum Court, said, "Vic was a friend of mine."

"Vic was a good state trooper and sheriff both. He was a good man; he had feelings for everybody," said Wayland. "I knew Vic for a long time."

Doug recalled that Kenny once told him that Vic wrote only two tickets during the whole time he was sheriff. "A sheriff is an administrator and supervisor, and it is not his job to chase down people," Doug added.

For many years, Vic walked his dogs along the ditch bank of the Wayland farm. Doug recalled, "Years ago, my son-in-law Rickey Rice, went out and posted ‘No Trespassing' signs along the farm on Evergreen Road." Rickey was trying to keep out the rabbit hunters, but Vic changed his walking route because of the signs.

"I waited on Vic to get back one day and told him, 'You're welcome to come on our farm anytime.' From that day on he walked his dog on our ditch bank," Doug said.

Incoming sheriff Jeff Yates echoed the sentiments of others. "Vic was a good guy," he said.

Jim Danley recalled that his father, James Danley, and Vic worked together and remained friends.

"Anytime we would run into Vic around town, I would sit and listen while he and Dad shared old war stories," Danley said.

Beverly Moody's father, Dub Meadows, worked with Vic on a lot of drug cases while Vic was sheriff and Meadows was working in law enforcement in Greene and Craighead counties.

"My dad and he played minor league ball together," she said. "My dad was also in the state police, but not in the same troop."

She said they stayed in touch throughout the years.

"When my dad died, I came to Vic's house and we cried all day together," she said. "Vic always had a smile, hug and a kiss for me every time he saw me. I will miss being able to talk to him and get his advice."

Funeral services will be today at 11 a.m. at House-Gregg Funeral Home. A full obituary can be found on page 3A of this week's edition.

(Additional reporting was provided for this story by Gretchen Hunt.)

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