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Royce Lafayette McMahen, D.V.M.
Sheriff of Webster Parish, Louisiana

In office
July 1980 – July 1996
Preceded by O. H. Haynes, Jr.
Succeeded by Larkin T. Riser
Personal details
Born (1923-07-09)July 9, 1923
Magnolia
Columbia County, Arkansas, USA
Died November 13, 1999(1999-11-13) (aged 76)
Resting place Springhill Cemetery in Springhill, Louisiana
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Johnnie Souter McMahen
Children Royce Wayne McMahen, D.V.M.
Residence Springhill, Louisiana
Alma mater Auburn University

Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine

Occupation Veterinarian
Religion Southern Baptist
Military service
Service/branch United States Army Medical Corps
Rank 1st sergeant
Battles/wars World War II

Royce Lafayette McMahen, known as Royce L. "Doc" McMahen (July 9, 1923 – November 13, 1999),[1] was a veterinarian from Springhill who served as a Democrat from 1980 to 1996 as the sheriff of Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana.

Background

A native of Magnolia in Columbia County in south Arkansas, McMahen enlisted in 1943 in the United States Army Medical Corps during World War II.[1] After attending then junior colleges in Magnolia and Monroe, Louisiana,[2] he enrolled at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, where he was in 1947 and 1948 he was a right guard for the Auburn Tigers football team.[3] In 1952, he received his degree from the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. In 1954, he opened McMahen Veterinary Hospital in Springhill.[4]

Political life

A member of the Springhill City Council since 1962,[2] McMahen, at the age of forty, ran for sheriff, an office which is also the collector of property taxes as well as the chief criminal law-enforcement officer in the parish outside the municipalities. In the Democratic primary on December 7, 1963, he finished a significant third in the balloting with 1,484 votes. In a runoff election in January 1964 between three-term incumbent J. D. Batton of Minden, the parish seat of government, and the number-two challenger, O. H. Haynes, Jr., the 43-year-old head of the state driver's license offices for all of North Louisiana[5] and the youngest son of former Sheriff O. H. Haynes, Sr., both also of Minden. After nineteen years as sheriff, the senior Haynes was unseated by Batton in the Democratic runoff election held on February 19, 1952. The office of sheriff is considered the most powerful political position in the parish.[6]

Haynes, Jr., trailed Batton by 722 votes in the primary, 1,993 to 2,719 votes. The Minden police chief, Lawrence Harold Gilbert (1911-1995), a narrow loser in the 1959 primary against Batton, also ran,[7] as did several minor candidates who could influence the outcome of a close race. One of those, George A. Pipes (1913-1976) of Dubberly in south Webster Parish, later switched to Republican affiliation and ran against Haynes in the general elections held on February 6, 1968, and February 1, 1972.[8]

In the runoff, McMahen endorsed Haynes, who then announced that Dr. McMahen would become his chief deputy for the northern half of the parish.[9] In the second campaign, Haynes ran a newspaper advertisement in which he vowed to bring "capable, conscientious, and sober leadership" to the sheriff's department. He claimed that the issue was not one of physical equipment or the training of deputies but leadership skills of the individual chosen as sheriff.[10] In the January 11 runoff, Haynes prevailed, 5,190 votes (53.4 percent) to Batton's 4,523 (46.6 percent).[11]

With Haynes's support, McMahen won the 1979 election to choose a new sheriff after Haynes's four terms in office. Haynes instead returned to his private business.[9] With 8,675 votes. McMahen defeated outright in the primary two fellow Democrats, Johnny Lombardino, the south Webster Parish marshal, and Jim Lee Stanfield, the Minden police chief, who finished in third place.[12]

In the spring of 1982, McMahen acquired the first narcotics tracking dog for use in Webster Parish schools, a two-year-old Labrador retriever named "Sender".[13]

Midway in McMahen's first term, a prominent local businessman, Newton Brown, and his wife, the former Erlene Nealy, were slain in their home in the Dixie Inn community west of Minden. The murders occurred on Christmas Eve, 1982. Convicted of the crimes were Jimmy Glass and Jimmy Wingo. The tragic case attracted national attention because of an upswing in executions in Louisiana at the time and a debate over the constitutionality of the death penalty.[14] One of the Browns' children, Gary Lamar Brown (born March 1954) is married to the former Melissa Marvin, daughter of the late Judge Charles A. Marvin and sister of current Bossier-Webster District Attorney Schuyler Marvin of Minden.[15]

In 1983, McMahen turned back a challenge from his former chief criminal deputy, Thomas Cameron "T. C." Bloxom, Jr. (1929-2014), a native of Mansfield in DeSoto Parish. Bloxom became a deputy in 1956 under J. D. Batton and continued in that role under both Haynes and McMahen until he resigned in 1983 to challenge McMahen, unsuccessfully, for reelection to a second term.[16] The Democrat Bloxom ran again for sheriff in 1999, when he polled 45.7 percent of the vote against McMahen's successor, Larkin T. Riser, a Democrat who became a Republican after leaving office.[17] Bloxom was also the appointed Minden Fire Department chief from 1971 to 2008 and the elected city police chief from 1990 to 2010.[18]

In 1987, McMahen won his third term as sheriff with nearly 69 percent of the voter over two fellow Democrats.[19] McMahen was unopposed for his fourth and final term in 1991, after which Larkin Riser held the position for two terms before being unseated in 2003[20] by the current sheriff, Democrat Gary Steven Sexton (born April 1953),[21] of Shongaloo in central Webster Parish. Thomas Dale "Tommy" Kemp (born August 1941), the chief criminal deputy since 1983, challenged Riser in the 1995 sheriff's race.[2]

In his last year in office, McMahen declined to accept a 44 percent pay increase which he was allowed. His pay was then $55,000 annually.[22]

Family life

McMahen's wife, the former Johnnie Souter (1930-2012), was a native of Macedonia in Columbia County, Arkansas, the daughter of Nesbit and Golda Souter. She was a clerk in the law firm of Roy M. Fish and Charles McConnell, a former mayor of Springhill and a two-time defeated candidate for the Louisiana House of Representatives. From 1974 until her retirement in 1992, Mrs. McMahen was the Springhill city clerk.[23] The McMahens were active in the Central Baptist Church of Springhill.[23]

The McMahens are survived by their older son, Royce Wayne McMahen (born 1955), who continues to operate the McMahen Veterinary Hospital, his wife, Beverly, and three grandchildren. On January 31, 2006, Dr. Wayne McMahen and a daughter were terrorized at the family residence by three masked armed robbers who fled from the scene in a stolen McMahen vehicle, which was quickly retrieved. One of the men, Geoffrey Eason (born c. 1976), was apprehended because his blood spilled on the floor after Dr. McMahen had managed to slam a door against Eason's hand. Eason tried to have his conviction thrown out on the premise that several jurors had over the years been friends of Dr. McMahen and that the trial judge, John M. Robinson, was a family friend. Eason's conviction was upheld on appeal to the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the Second District in Shreveport, but his two fifty-year sentences were remanded for resentencing on a technical issue.[24]

The McMahens are interred alongside their younger son, Randy McMahen (1956-1968), at Springhill Cemetery.[23]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Royce L. McMahen, Springhill Cemetery". findgrave.org. http://findgrave.org/royce-mcmahen-louisiana-2667866/. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Pat Culverhouse, "McMahen won'st seek fifth term," Minden Press-Herald, January 13, 1995, pp. 1,3.
  3. "Royce L. McMahen". fanbase.com. http://www.fanbase.com/Royce-L-McMahen. Retrieved September 15, 2014. 
  4. "In Memoriam: Royce L. McMahen". avma.org. January 1, 2000. https://www.avma.org/News/JAVMANews/Pages/s011500oo.aspx. Retrieved September 15, 2014. 
  5. John A. Agan (2000). Minden. Images of America. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing Company. pp. 94. ISBN 0-7385-0580-3. https://books.google.com/books?id=N5eVZvsyb00C&pg=PA94&lpg=PA94&dq=J.+D.+Batton+of+Minden,+LA&source=bl&ots=G_xmoAl3pF&sig=gy2tY1NMiqDXK94gKqkvh0XP0hU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=e-YEVPmJG8f28QG5sIDICA&ved=0CF8Q6AEwCg#v=onepage&q=J.%20D.%20Batton%20of%20Minden%2C%20LA&f=false. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 
  6. "Batton Elected Sheriff," Minden Herald, February 21, 1952, p. 1
  7. "Batton and Haynes Paired in Runoff for Sheriff's Post", Minden Press, December 9, 1963, p. 1
  8. Minden Press-Herald, February 2, 1972
  9. 9.0 9.1 John A. Agan. Images of America: Webster Parish. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing Company. pp. 49. ISBN 978-0-7385-0604-3. https://books.google.com/books?id=LmTeb8aGnkoC&pg=PA49&lpg=PA49&dq=Royce+A.+McMahen&source=bl&ots=E84X8QtXTW&sig=YhEtFueC25ftHMFQBpsEfm5mGpc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=dPoYVNLqI7LP8QH93oCoBQ&ved=0CCkQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=Royce%20A.%20McMahen&f=false. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  10. Minden Press, January 6, 1964
  11. Minden Press, January 13, 1964, p. 1
  12. "McMahen New Sheriff", Minden Press-Herald, October 29, 1979, p. 1
  13. "Webster Sheriff Gets Narcotics Locator Dog, 'Sender'", Minden Press-Herald, March 31, 1982, p. 1
  14. "Louisiana Executes Second Man in Slaying of Couple, June 16, 1987". The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1987/06/16/us/louisiana-executes-2d-man-in-slaying-of-couple.html. Retrieved November 25, 2013. 
  15. "Brown, Fusilier announce engagement, May 3, 2013". Eunice Today. http://www.eunicetoday.com/brown-fusilier-announce-engagement. Retrieved November 26, 2013. 
  16. "Results for Election Date: 10/22/1983: Webster Parish". Louisiana Secretary of State. http://staticresults.sos.la.gov/10221983/10221983_60.html. Retrieved September 13, 2014. 
  17. "Results for Election Date: 10/23/1999: Webster Parish". staticresults.sos.la.gov. http://staticresults.sos.la.gov/10231999/10231999_60.html. Retrieved September 15, 2014. 
  18. "T. C. Bloxom, long-time Minden fire chief, dies", The Shreveport Times, July 14, 2014
  19. "Results for Election Date: 10/24/1987: Webster Parish". staticresults.sos.la.gov. http://staticresults.sos.la.gov/10241987/10241987_60.html. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  20. "Results for Election Date: 10/3/2003". staticresults.sos.la.gov. http://staticresults.sos.la.gov/10042003/10042003_60.html. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  21. "Gary Sexton, April 1953". voterportal.sos.la.gov. http://voterportal.sos.la.gov/home.aspx?galogin=voter. Retrieved September 14, 2014. 
  22. "Sheriff won't take pay raise", Minden Press-Herald, April 7, 1995, p. 1.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 "Johnnie Souter McMahen". The Shreveport Times. August 7, 2012. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=McMahen&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSst=20&GScnty=1168&GScntry=4&GSob=n&GRid=94968818&df=all&. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  24. "State of Louisiana v. Goeffrey Eason". Louisiana Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit. February 25, 2009. http://www.la2nd.org/archives/docs/43788ka.pdf. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
Preceded by
O. H. Haynes, Jr.
Sheriff of Webster Parish, Louisiana

Royce Lafayette "Doc" McMahen, D.V.M.
1980–1996

Succeeded by
Larkin T. Riser

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