RAYMONDVILLE, Texas – Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence has been in law enforcement for more than 54 years.
Spence holds the spot for the second longest serving Sheriff in all of Texas.
Monday, Sheriff Spence celebrated his 54th year in law enforcement, with the majority of it right here in Willacy County.
“I’ve carried the badge for 54 years,” said Sheriff Spence who has been Willacy County Sheriff for more than 34 years, “When I got here in ’76, I had ten years [of experience] and then I’ve been with Willacy County ever since. 44 years [working here] and 34 years as your sheriff,” said Spence.
Before moving to Raymondville, the Indiana native served in the U.S. Air Force and worked for the FBI as a clerical employee, but always knew in his heart he was meant to be a peace officer.
“It all started when I was a patrol boy in elementary school. You know I had the little thing with the badge and everything. I had one of the main corners to watch, where the traffic was heavier. The Chief of Police at that time would always come by my corner and he would talk to me and he would tell me stories,” remembers Spence.
More than 60 years later, the memory is still fresh in his mind.
After serving in the Vietnam War, Spence became a police officer in his hometown in Indiana and shortly after moved to Willacy County chasing love.
“My first wife, she said ‘well you know I like your family, I like its spring, summer, and fall, but I don’t like these winters’ and we had a little 6-year-old boy and she said ‘if you ever want to see me or your son again you need to get in a U-Haul and follow us to south Texas where it’s warm’ so, that’s how I ended up down here,” said Spence.
One month into moving to South Texas, Spence was already working at the Willacy County Sheriff’s Department.
He never left.
Sheriff Spence also served as President on the Texas Board of Sheriff’s and is the Chaplain of the Texas Sheriff’s Association.
He has received countless other awards, been a part of multiple other boards and has been recognized by lawmakers on local, state and federal levels.
After 54 years of service, Sheriff Spence will be retiring at the end of the year.
“It’s going to be very hard for me to walk away from it. 54 years is a big chunk of your life,” said Spence.
But through the ups and downs he says he owes it all to God and to the people who call Willacy County home.
“These people have been really kind to me, I’m a people person and I really love the people and I tell these younger guys ‘take care of the people and the people they’ll take care of you’, and they’ve really taken care of me and they’ve blessed me in many many ways, I am so blessed to be in this position,” said Spence.
Spence tells us he will miss the officers the most because they have become like his family.
Spence’s last day in office will be December 31, 2020 but hopes to stay in Willacy County for his retirement.