Thursday, January 24, 2008
I met Ruble Maxey back in 1991, the year I moved to Monroe County as editor and publisher of The Aberdeen Examiner.
He was a justice court judge who was running for sheriff.
He was a bit intimidating to a young journalist – a big man. I soon found out he was indeed tough, but kind and gentle, too.
Ruble won the election that year and took office in 1992. I was there for his inauguration in the Monroe County Courthouse.
For the next few years, we cut our teeth together – he as a newcomer to the sheriff’s office and me as a still young and somewhat inexperienced newspaper publisher new to Monroe County.
I made a visit to Ruble’s office at the old jail most every Monday or Tuesday. I was looking for news.
I remember some of those visits like they were yesterday – most of all recalling the fun stories and the laughs – not the crimes.
Soon it became more than just a sheriff and journalist relationship. Sheriff Maxey became a good friend.
That’s one of the great things about small-town, weekly newspaper journalism. We get to know and appreciate the people we write about. We’re all neighbors.
I learned to understand Ruble’s job as a sheriff in a rural county. He learned to understand mine as a community newspaper publisher.
We didn’t always agree, but he trusted me, and I trusted him. We talked on the record and off the record, too.
I was stunned Wednesday morning of last week when I arrived at my office and opened up that day’s edition of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. On page 4A, there was an obituary for Ruble Maxey Jr.
He died Monday, Jan. 14, at the age of 63.
I later found out he was diagnosed with colon cancer about a year ago.
He collapsed at his home in the Hatley community and was transported by ambulance to Gilmore Memorial Regional Medical Center in Amory where he died. According to Monroe County Coroner Alan Gurley, he died of complications of cancer and a heart attack.
Ruble did not seek re-election last year – after 16 years in office. He retired December 31, 2007, as sheriff.
Unfortunately, just 14 days later, he died.
According to newspaper reports from Journal Publishing, his goal in retirement was to spend time traveling with his wife Gloria.
He was also looking forward to researching and writing about the history of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department from 1821 to present. Before he left office, he had started a project of getting all the photos of sheriffs past and present framed and displayed on the department’s walls.
Hopefully, someone will take up the history project and carry on with Ruble’s efforts.
He was also a car racing enthusiast. A portion of his obituary read, “When he was wasn’t working, he was on his way to the race track, going golfing, or working on his farm.”
The sheriff’s department made great strides under Ruble’s leadership – during the eight years I was there and the eight to follow. He was a great leader – not just of the sheriff’s department but in his home county in general.
When he took office, he had five deputies, one per shift and one relief. When he retired there were 12 deputies, three jailers, one dispatcher per shift, two investigative officers and a narcotics agent. A new jail, which I have not seen, was also built during his tenure.
His obituary said, “He touched a lot of lives, and a lot of people touched his life.”
Ruble influenced me for the better – professionally and personally. I can only hope I did the same for him.
Memorials may be made to the Mississippi Sheriff’s Boys and Girls Ranch, P.O. Box 1428, Columbus, MS 39703.
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