South Bend Tribune
South Bend, Indiana
November 23 & 24,2005
Many Thanks to Ida Chipman for graciously allowing us to reproduce this article.

This 1959 was taken soon after Jerry Greenlee was elected sheriff.
From left are Deputy Harold King, Sheriff Harvey Phillips and Greenlee.

November 23. 2005
First of two parts

Jerry Greenlee recalls early days as a 24-year-old sheriff

Tribune Correspondent

PLYMOUTH -- Jerry Greenlee was just 24 years old when he was elected sheriff of Marshall County in 1957.

At the time, he was the youngest man to ever hold that office in the state of Indiana.

"I think there have been a few younger since then," he said, "but not many."

Born in Plymouth in 1933, Jerry was the last of the three boys and one girl of Harold and Mildred Greenlee.

He graduated from Lincoln High School in 1951. He played baseball, saxophone in the band and sang in the choir.

Jerry's true sport was football.

In 1950, a tackle, he was the second Plymouth player -- behind Redd Smith -- to be named to the first team of the Indiana All State Football selections.

He went to Purdue on a football scholarship.

"That first year, I had an appendectomy and later tore up my right knee," he said.

He transferred to Ball State, thinking that maybe he could get more playing time at a smaller school. He promptly ripped up his knee again.

"I pretty well hung up my cleats after that."

In April 1953, during the Korean War, Jerry was drafted into the Army and spent 18 months in Stuttgart, Germany.

Back home, he worked for Bendix in South Bend for awhile before returning to Ball State.

He didn't meet his wife, Jean Carpenter of Argos, until 1956.

Jerry had a dance band. "We didn't even have a name," he said, "just 'the band.'"

They were playing for a Rainbow Girls' dance and Jerry's older brother, Jack, was asking around to find a nice girl who would like to meet his brother.

Jerry had to call Jean a few times before she agreed to go out with him.

They were married on June 2, 1957.

The month before, Harvey Phillips, then the sheriff of Marshall County, had offered Jerry a job as his deputy.

"I earned $4,500 a year and drove my own car," he recalled. "In fact, Harvey had to drive his car and we paid for our own gas."

The following year, Phillips had served his two terms as sheriff and was the Democratic candidate for Marshall County clerk. He urged Jerry to run for the sheriff's job.

"I'd come home and talk to Jean, and she'd say 'no.' Then I'd go back and Harvey would talk some more and Jean would still say 'no.'"

Harvey won.

And a few months later, so did Jerry.

On New Year's Eve, in the middle of an ice storm, the Greenlees with their 3-month-old baby daughter, Debra, moved into the jail.

Jerry was almost immediately called out on accident calls, and Jean had to learn how to operate the radio.

The family lived in the jail for over four years.

It was, according to Jean, like they too were serving time.

"The building was falling apart," Jean said. "There were no family quarters. Our three bedrooms upstairs were in the cell block.

"When you went to the bathroom, you had to walk in front of two cells, more often than not, with inmates inside."

Jean did the cooking for everyone and served as a jailhouse matron when there were female prisoners.

When Jerry wasn't around, she was in charge.

Anson Wyland was a convicted murderer. As the story goes, he killed a man in St. Joseph County and dumped the body in Marshall. He was incarcerated in the Marshall jail for a couple of years.

"I think he was mentally unstable and the prison system didn't know what to do with him, so they left him with us," Jerry said.

Jerry asked Wyland one time why he had killed the guy.

"Nobody liked him anyway; he didn't have any friends," Anson said.

When Jean found out the date of Anson's birthday, she baked him a cake. Without the candles.

He was very grateful. Anson later died at the hands of fellow inmates in Michigan City Prison.

In 1959, another Greenlee checked in at the Marshall County jail.

Jerry and Jean Greenlee's second daughter, Kathy, was born.

Jerry, elected sheriff in 1957 at age 24, earned a second term in 1961, leading the Democratic Party ticket.

Harold King was named as his deputy.

"We finally got two police cars," Jerry said. "I had a terrible time getting them in the budget. You'd have thought we were robbing a bank."

Bud Long was one of the regular inmates in the jail.

Sheriff Phillips first took pity on Bud when he would be routinely arrested for public intoxication and put in the pokey for 30 to 60 days at a time.

The sheriff would hose him off, throw him in a cell to work out the d.t.'s and -- because he had no place to go -- let him stay and man the phones, do the painting or lawn work, whatever needed to be done at no cost to the county.

The Greenlees inherited Bud Long when they took over.

"He practically lived with us," Jean said.

"He'd be dry for months," Jerry said, "then just let Buss French from Culver show up.

"Buss would get into the shaving lotion or rubbing alcohol, give Bud a snort and the two of them would be off again."

Bud loved the little Greenlee girls. And they loved him.

"I remember one time," Jean said, "he had Debbie in her stroller. She had long blonde curls. Bud said he was going down to Pat's barber shop to get a trim.

"OK, "Jean told him, "but don't you let Pat Langdon lay one finger on her hair!"

Eventually, Bud was sent to the Veterans' Hospital in Lafayette. On holidays, he'd ride the bus up to Plymouth and stay with the Greenlees.

Memories fond and otherwise from years as sheriff

Second of two parts
Tribune Correspondent

PLYMOUTH -- While Jerry Greenlee was sheriff, he was called out on a number of airplane accidents.

Because he was a pilot himself, having been taught by Bob Kirkley in the early 1960s, he was familiar with airplanes.

It came in handy when a fellow sheriff flying out west called in a Mayday.

The pilot asked permission to land on Indiana 8, and Jerry quickly blocked off the road to be used as a landing strip.

After the plane was down, Jerry got in the cockpit and checked the gauges. When he questioned the pilot as to the reason for the emergency landing, he said, "You ran out of gas, didn't you?"

"Yeah," the shame-faced sheriff answered. "I sure did."

In September 1960, Edward Voorde, mayor of South Bend, died in a one-car automobile accident in Marshall County.

Jerry and the Indiana State Police were working the case when he got a call from the South Bend Police, telling him to back off until they came down to take over the case.

"The Hell you will," the young sheriff told them. "This is my territory and you stay out of it."

And they did.

Jerry had several confrontations with armed robbers.

One group he chased for two days before finally catching them in the woods near LaPaz.

Another time, he was trying to serve papers on a woman who suddenly began to shoot at him with a double-barreled shotgun.

He called for backup to surround the house, and he and other officers took the occupants into custody.

"Turns out they were deaf mutes and we weren't able to communicate with them," Jerry said. "It was a sad situation."

The most suspects he ever corralled at one time were 51 high school kids partying at the Twin Lakes Conservation Club House.

"My deputy, Dean Baker, and I rounded up this bunch," Jerry said.

"What do we do now, Ollie?" Dean said.

There was certainly no room at the jail.

Jerry told the assembled group, "Follow me, kids."

And they did. All but two, whom he picked up later.

At the jail, he took their names, their parents' names and phone numbers and told them to come back in the morning.

The next day, he told the parents, "You take care of it this time, and if there is a next time I will take care of it!"

One of the most irritating aspects of his tenure came from one family in Tippecanoe.

There was a father and five sons. "And they were big and mean," Jerry said.

Almost every Saturday night, there'd be a phone call: "The boys are at it again."

During one fight, a by-stander pointed out one of the men to the deputy as the bad guy.

Harold beaned him with his blackjack, only to find out the spectator was mistaken. He had hit the wrong man.

"I didn't blame Harold a bit," Jerry said, "I'd have done the same thing."

One time they hauled in several prostitutes from Sand Hill, an establishment over in Starke County.

"We needed to get their pictures in our files," Jerry said. "At that time, we couldn't be sure they'd get the job done over in our neighboring county."

He asked Charlie Robertson, manager at the Ross Hotel, if he recognized any of them and were any of them staying there.

"Of course, he denied ever seeing any of them before," Jerry said.

Jerry sent a Christmas card with the girls' photographs and all of the appropriate greetings to the Langdon barbershop. "I wonder if Pat kept that," he mused.

Two years into his second term, Jerry had had enough.

"I was making $8,500 a year. There were no benefits, no retirement fund and no long-term insurance.

"It didn't look like it was going to get any better. And I didn't want to get into the 'musical chairs' at the courthouse that you have to do after a couple of terms in one job."

Jean wasn't happy either.

"It was too dangerous," she said, "not only for Jerry, but for our family with criminals living right here with us."

The family had moved next door at the beginning of Jerry's second term, but when there were female prisoners, they had to accommodate them.

"Our girls were scared," he said.

Jerry was offered a job at Weidner's Canning with double the salary and all of the benefits.

In 1994, he resigned as sheriff and was replaced by Harold King.

Jerry worked at Weidners' for the next five years. He and Dale Hite were partners in Hite Equipment and then, in partnership with Dick Flagg, Jerry bought the Tri-County Beverage Inc. in Plymouth.

In 1988, he was elected and served four years as a Marshall County commissioner.

Later, semi-retired, he ran the mowing crew for the county highway department up until May of this year, when he was diagnosed with cancer of a kidney.

After surgery, he was told that they had gotten all the cancer and he was home free.

Turns out, they were wrong.

Things haven't gotten much better. With six surgeries since May, on Oct. 4, Jerry was told he has cancer of the spine and sternum.

He's being treated with Interferon and daily radiation treatments.

Most days he feels good.

Some days he does not.

But he's a fighter. Always has been.

Whether on Plymouth's football team or as the sheriff of Marshall County, Jerry Greenlee could always be counted on to give everything he had. He will do no less now.

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