He took the place of a controversial sheriff...has handled some of this area's most gruesome murder investigations, but now he is hanging up his hat.
Looking back, Sheriff Gene Barber never thought he'd end up in law enforcement.
"I thought I was just gonna fill out an unexpired term for two years. But then no one ran against me and I thought, well maybe I ought to stay," Barber said.
For ten years he's stayed. Putting some of the most brutal murderers behind bars and expanding the jail to twice its size....but it is the unsolved case of missing Snook resident Jerome Robinson that remains on his mind.
"It's a disappointment to me that we haven't been able to solve the case. I hope somewhere down the line someone will come forward. I know that out there somewhere, somebody knows," Barber said.
Barber may not see the case closed because the oldest sheriff in texas is moving on.
"I'm 79 years old and I believe that there's times when you get to where you can't chase the people you need to catch and you need to let somebody else do it," Barber said.
And his replacements are just down the hall.
Chief Deputy Mike Brackman and Sargent Dale Stroud have worked with Barber for years.
Now they are both running for the position.
"We work as a team. Everybody inside the department works shoulder to shoulder," Brackman said.
"The sheriff's department here in the last several years has gained a very good reputation," Stroud said.
Barber says with strong candidates for sheriff that reputation will continue.
"I'm proud of both of them. Proud that they've been a part of the team that we had," Barber said.
January first will be the last day of a career that has spanned a decade...but Barber says he isn't leaving empty handed.
"Being a sheriff is an interesting job. And it's a revealing job. You get an education on how and why crimes are committed. I've had a little bit of an education," Barber said.
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