CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
BURNET — In honor of his legacy in Burnet County and in preparation of a renovation project, officials have moved a statue of the longest-serving Texas sheriff, Wallace Riddell, to the grounds of the old jail on the courthouse square.
Riddell served as Burnet County sheriff for nearly four decades from 1939 to 1978.
He died in 1978, and two years later, officials erected a bronze likeness of the lawman on a granite pedestal at the east side of the Burnet County Courthouse, 220 S. Pierce St.
On July 16, family members and residents gathered to witness a crew relocate the 10,000-pound statue a block away to 200 E. Washington St.
“We tell people my husband, Pat (Riddell), was raised in the jail,” said Anne Riddell, daughter-in-law of Wallace Riddell.
Her late husband, Pat, who was the late sheriff’s son, spent much of his childhood in the facility because Wallace Riddell resided there during his tenure.
“The movers were great. We love the location. That’s the most appropriate place for Wallace’s statue,” she said. “They talked about his influence in the community, how friendly, how concerned he was with everyone, especially young people.”
Wallace Riddell’s legacy continues to impact adults, who recalled his stewardship in the community, as well as law enforcement members.
“I remember him when I was a young person. He had a way about him. He wasn’t a large stature man, but you knew who was in control. He was a very respectable person,” Burnet County Judge James Oakley said. “He did so many things. He would deal with troubled youth, sit down and talk with them, sort of Mayberry-style, and would alter their lives in a positive way without them having to go through the system.”
Oakley added that the statue will usher in a new function of the facility, which currently houses the juvenile probation office.
“As we transition that building use to more of a tourist destination, somewhat of a museum aspect, this will act as a hood ornament for that,” he said. “It’s the most respectful thing we can do for his namesake and the family.”