Walter “Leroy” Bryant, 88, passed from this life on April 10, 2020. Leroy was born on January 6, 1932, in Blackburn, OK. He was the youngest of the 6 children born to the late, John & Olla Bryant.
During his childhood, Leroy attended Blackburn Public Schools. However, due to his mother’s poor health & financial struggles, Leroy dropped out of school around the 8th grade, to help support her. It wasn’t until 1956 that Leroy was able to go back to school & earn his GED.
As a young adult, Leroy attended the first Assembly of God church in Blackburn, OK. It was there that he met the love of his life, Peggy “Joyce” Bryant. Two years later, on June 6, 1952, he married her at the 1st Assembly of God church in Cleveland, OK. Leroy & Joyce were married 67 years, before Joyce went home to be with the Lord, on July 8, 2019. During their marriage, they were blessed with two beautiful daughters, Peggy Lee Bryant & Vickie Rae Speece.
Leroy was an intelligent man. A man of many traits & talents. A man who was never afraid to work & worked hard to support his family. When he was just 17 years old, he lied about his age, so that he could go to work for his brother Leon, in the oil fields. Over the next 35 years, Leroy worked for oil companies such as Skat Drilling, Reed Drilling, Oakland Drilling, B&W Drilling & Gulf Oil, working his way from a derrick hand to a Supervisor.
In 1959, while working in California, Leroy was hurt on the job & laid up for several months. During this time, he decided to complete the paperwork & interview for the Highway Patrol. After paying the $285 tuition, he spent the next 9 months going to night classes at the Peace Officers training services in Oakland, CA. Out of 17 applicants, Leroy was the only one accepted. He was given the choice to work for the Highway Patrol or the Police, as well as his choice of weapon. Leroy decided on the 36 Smith & Wesson Chief special hand gun over the Highway Patrol gun. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, Leroy had to move back to Oklahoma & was unable to finish his classes. Later that year, he was hired by Pawnee County Sheriff Billy Moore, where he worked as a Jailer & Pawnee County Deputy.
For those who knew Leroy, knew he had a love & passion for Law Enforcement. He loved helping others & wanted the best for his town & the surrounding communities. It was that passion, coursing through his blood, that led him to run for Sheriff of Pawnee County, during the 1959 county election. Unfortunately, Leroy lost the Sheriff’s race against Raymond Wilson, but that didn’t stop him from pursuing his passion in Law Enforcement.
In 1961, Leroy went to work for Everett Kitchell at the Pawnee Police Department, where he served for the next five years. Then in 1966, he moved to Stillwater, OK & worked for the OSU Security Department. He was hired on as foot patrol, then later promoted to Sergeant, Captain & before he left, Detective. During that time, OSU Security wore what he considered to be “Barnie Fife” hats. He disliked the hats & felt that as “Cowboys” they should wear Cowboy hats. After several hard months of negotiating, he won the fight & OSU Security instituted the Cowboy Hat as part of the OSU Security attire. It was also during his time at OSU, that he had the honor of guarding U.S. President Richard Nixon. In appreciation for his service, President Nixon gave him an inscribed ink pen & lapel pins for his uniform.
For the next several years Leroy tried to go back to the oil field life, but it couldn’t compete with his love for law enforcement. So, in 1984, he ran for the office of Pawnee County Sheriff, for the second time. After months of campaigning & a victory at the polls, Leroy took office on Jan. 7, 1985. During his term as Sheriff, Leroy accomplished what others wanted, but never could. He was the first Sheriff to obtain the grants needed, to purchase patrol cars for the county & begin the Pawnee County D.A.R.E. Program. He was also the first to allow Trustees to attend church on Sundays & Wednesday, at Pawnee 1st A/G with the Jail’s Chaplain, during their incarceration. He believed it was important that the inmates be given the opportunity to allow God to change their life. While in office he, along with the help of his wife, designed & implicated the Pawnee County Sheriff’s Office Patch, that Pawnee County Officers still wear on their uniforms today. He had numerous drug confiscations & had recovered several thousand dollars’ worth of stolen property, over the years. Leroy was a member of the County Officers & Deputies Association of Oklahoma, & a member of the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association & to this day, is the longest running Sheriff of Pawnee County since 1893, serving a term of 14 years & 3 months.
Leroy knew how to enjoy life. He loved to fish, but more than anything, he loved to elk hunt in Colorado with the Bryant boys. He also loved gardening & life on the farm. He loved to pick around on the guitar & piano but his favorite past time was playing dominoes. He had a knack for it & could read your hand quicker than you could lay them down. Leroy loved to visit & was always reminiscing about the past, telling his stories to anyone who would listen. He loved to travel & enjoyed cooking. Leroy was proud of his family & had a deep love for his wife, his girls, his grandkids & his great-grandkids. He was a born-again believer & a faithful member of the Pawnee First Assembly of God church, where he attended until his health prohibited it.
Leroy was loved & greatly respected by many. His life on this earth made a huge difference in the lives of everyone he knew. He was a tough man, but a man with a huge heart.
As we gather today, it is not to mourn his passing, but to celebrate his life. The influence he made & the legacy he left behind, will continue to live on for generations to come. He will never be forgotten & will forever be cherished in the lives of his two daughters: Peggy Bryant & Vickie Speece….His five grandchildren: Angie Brumley, Rachel Buchanan, Chase Speece, ReBecca Lewis & Jeremiah Whitteberry….His five great grandchildren: Zac Buchanan, Alayah Lewis, DonTaelynn Lewis, Dejuaquan Lewis & Shakyla Lewis, all of Pawnee, Oklahoma as well as numerous nieces, nephews, cousins & friends.
Leroy was preceded in death by his parents: John & Olla Bryant, his 3 brothers: Leo, Leon & Leonard, 2 sisters: Ara & Mary Helen & his wife, Joyce.