Ellis County lost a great hero, Wayne McCollum, Sunday, Nov. 17. Wayne served as county sheriff for 20 years changing lives and touching many hearts during his career in law enforcement. He was born May 17, 1912 and passed away in Waxahachie.
“He is going to be missed greatly. He was a great, great man and was the longest serving sheriff in Ellis County from 1956-1977,” Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown said. “Before he was the sheriff he was a deputy. Everybody knew him and everyone respected him. I would say that his legacy is the respect that he gave to the citizens.”
Brown said after he was elected sheriff the piece of advice Wayne told him was “to be fair, but firm” with the people he encountered on the job.
The Ellis County Sheriff's Office has planned to honor Wayne with an honor guard present at his visitation and graveside service to take place Thursday. Brown added that sheriffs from around the area would also serve as honorary pallbearers.
Wayne's longtime friend, G.T. Morton, said he was a very honorable person, very fair and kind. Morton got to know Wayne in his early years, when he had run-ins with the sheriff's office on occasion. Over time Wayne counseled Morton, gave him guidance, provided help and became a second father to Morton.
“He was a person that everybody looked up to. If they were in trouble they always went to Wayne,” Morton said. “They took Wayne for his word and everybody listened to him. If he told you something, it was true. His integrity was at a level that you could not just imagine.”
Morton said Wayne always tried to lend a hand to anyone that needed help who crossed his path. During his 20 years as sheriff, Wayne was known for never wearing a gun, but was never seen without his white Stetson hat. He enforced the law with a gentle manner and people obeyed his word.
McCollum’s brother John said Wayne was a man of honor.
“When he told you something his word was just like a contract. His word was his bond, and he always honored that,” John said. “The community is better because of him being here. He brought everybody together.”
Ellis County Judge Carol Bush said the impact that McCollum has made here in the county will never be forgotten.
“I was saddened to hear the news of Former Sheriff Wayne McCollum's passing. He was a legend in the law enforcement community. It was fitting to name the detention center after him for the many contributions he made to law enforcement and this community,” Bush said. “I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to his family and hope they are comforted by his remarkable legacy.”
Before serving the county as sheriff, Wayne served his country in the U.S. Army during World War II and was a part of the D-Day invasion of France. His time in the military took him from Africa to Germany, and during that time he earned seven Bronze Stars, one Purple Heart and four Campaign Ribbons. Wayne told the Daily Light in a pervious interview that he became a caretaker for Gen. George S. Patton’s horse during his service in the military. He developed a deep love for horses that continued on in his life.
Morton said Wayne's love for horses rivaled his love for people, and likewise he earned the trust of horses as he did people – through fair but firm commands.
Ellis County Commissioner Ron Brown said Wayne had a presence about him that showed the community he was in control and everything was going to be OK. Brown said he would be greatly missed.
Wayne is preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Judy McCollum. A visitation will be held from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20 at the Wayne Boze Funeral Home located at 1826 W. U.S. Highway 287 Business. The graveside service will take place at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 21 at Hillcrest Cemetery in Waxahachie and is open to the public.