By DAVID SWEARINGEN
EDITOR’S NOTE: Residents of Stephenville, and the rest of Erath County, are very fortunate to have many men and women who make living here safe, many of whom are volunteers. They are Hometown Heroes! These people keep us safe and we owe them our thanks and our respect. THANK YOU!
ERATH COUNTY (September 23, 2016) – This week The Flash would like to honor Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant as a Hometown Hero.
Bryant has lived in Stephenville for most of his life. Born in Granbury in 1960, he moved to Stephenville when he was in the fourth grade. Bryant has one younger brother and one younger sister. Having graduated from Stephenville HS in 1979, Bryant was a high school athlete competing in football, baseball, track and tennis.
He began workouts with the Tarleton State University football team shortly thereafter, but never got to play. Bryant had to quit due to his father becoming ill. He would probably never admit to it, but in the 1980’s Bryant was probably one of the best players in the Men’s Slow Pitch Softball leagues down in the city park.
Bryant has been married to wife, Donnie, for 30 years. Currently a teacher at the Stephenville High School, Donnie has been a Spanish teacher here in Stephenville for many years. The Bryants have a 20-year-old son, Thomas Allen Bryant, and who is currently attending EMT school.
After high school, Sheriff Bryant did not immediately begin his career in law enforcement, but it did not take him long. He was a welder at Appleton for a while. But later took advantage of a ride-along program the Stephenville Police Department was offering and got to experience a little bit of what it is like to be a police officer. Bryant said he “fell in love” with law enforcement and that he loved it so much he entered the TSU Police Academy shortly thereafter. Graduating from the academy in 1988, Bryant went to work for the Stephenville Police Department on August 15 of the same year.
In 1996, Bryant decided to run for sheriff of Erath County and won. He started the job on Jan. 1, 1997, and said he has been a very hard-working Sheriff for Erath County ever since then, implementing several policies or practices.
One such practice is the using of inmate labor to clean the roadside on a stretch of Lingleville Highway outside of town, as part of the TXDOT Adopt-A-Highway program. He has also had the inmates work or assist in many other similar cleanup efforts including project with Habitat for Humanity, janitorial work at the courthouse, cleaning up the Dublin City Park, as well as the Stephenville City Park and the Bosque River. The inmates have also done some painting at various schools and churches.
Of course, these opportunities are only given to non-violent inmates for safety purposes. And the program allows the inmates to help out the community while serving their time. Bryant said it also helps to save taxpayer dollars.
His favorite part about the job is having the opportunity to help folks. For example, on numerous occasions, he has alerted the public of various scams that are usually designed to prey on the elderly citizens.
A normal workday for our sheriff is from 8 to 5, but, like many other law enforcement professionals, he is always on call. He said he has had to missed numerous family events and occasions over the years, but considers that all just part of the job that he has such passion for. Sheriff Bryant said one of the most memorable events of his career will always be the murder case of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. And, as Stephenville residents can recall, the media circus that surrounded the courthouse during those days of the trial.
Bryant is also a cancer survivor – fighting a form of oral cancer. He had a surgery of the mouth, as well as having his lymph nodes removed and now has to continue with periodic check-ups. Bryant said sometimes cancer can be harder on the family than it is on the patient.
In the past, Bryant has worked for Meals on Wheels of Erath County and he is a current member of the Stephenville Optimist Club. He currently attends the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church of Stephenville as he has for over 20 years now. Though he does not have as much time for hobbies, Bryant said he really enjoys spending time with his family and his two chihuahuas.
“I would just like to tell everyone what a privilege and an honor it has been to be your sheriff for all these years,” Bryant said. “I appreciate the residents for electing me for all these years. I continue to strive to do the best I can for the citizens. And, I still believe that Erath County is one of the safest counties in Texas to live.”
Stephenville and Erath County would like to thank Tommy Bryant for all his years of loyal service to his community and for helping to keep us all safe.