LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Midland County Sheriff’s Office is mourning the passing of longtime sheriff Gary Painter.
Painter was found at his home unresponsive, Saturday night. EMS on scene tried to revive Painter with no success.
Painter, Born in Amherst and raised on a family farm near Plainview, was a Marine who served two tours in Vietnam, earning the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Vietnam Service Ribbon with 6 devices, the Presidential Unit Commendation, and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry.
After leaving the Marine Corps, reaching the rank of Sergeant, Painter went to work in law enforcement with the Texas Department of Public Safety as a Highway Patrolman.
While earning his Bachelors in Police Administration from Sul Ross State University, Painter worked with the Culberson County Sheriff’s Office, the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office, and the Midland Police.
Painter began working with the Midland County Sheriff’s Office in 1982, running for office as sheriff in January of 1985.
In his time as Sheriff, Painter organized the first multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force in West Texas, organized the Midland County Sheriff’s Office Crisis Intervention Unit, and was fundamental in the beginning of STAR (Sheriffs of Texas Agreed Response) an organization that is instrumental in helping communities develop plans to fight terrorism and weapons of mass destruction incidents.
Painter was married to his wife, Patsy, for 39 years. He leaves behind five children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe issued this statement on Sunday:
Early this morning I received the heartbreaking news that Sheriff Painter had passed away suddenly. Sheriff Painter took a chance with a young man just out of the Army to sponsor my application to the law enforcement academy, and ultimately started my career at the Midland County Sheriff’s Office. He truly was a larger than life figure who set the example of how to do professional law enforcement and corrections as well as how to conduct yourself as a peace officer both on and off duty. He certainly knew and understood the challenges we all face in this vast West Texas region. Because of that, he planted the first seeds of what cooperative partnerships across numerous agencies could do to improve overall public safety, and ensure resources were always available to anyone who called in need of assistance. He is known throughout the entire State of Texas (and beyond) as a highly respected Lawman who has accomplished a great many things, and is always spoken of in the most benevolent of terms.
On a personal note I will miss him tremendously, and will never be able to thank him enough for everything he taught and did for me over all these many years. On behalf of all of us at the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office our deepest sympathies, prayers and hearts are with his wife Patsy and their children, as well as our brothers and sisters of the Midland County Sheriff’s Office.
Heaven had better be ready, there truly is a new “Sheriff in town.”