The Athens Review
Former Sheriff Charlie Fields, Jr., who died Saturday at age 89, was the last head of Henderson County law enforcement to serve his entire term in the old jail.
In a way, that’s appropriate. Fields and his father before him, Charlie Fields, Sr., who was gunned down while serving as a Sheriff’s Deputy, reach far back into the county’s law enforcement history.
Although things didn’t move at today’s supercharged pace during Fields era, he still had his share of difficult cases. The Athens Review reported on double-murder in 1982, in which a retired Trinidad couple was stabbed to death, and their home burned.
“Up to now, we’re batting 1,000 on apprehending murder suspects since I took office almost two years ago,” Fields noted. “All those captured are either serving time or awaiting trial, I only hope and pray our success continues in this case.”
Former 173rd District Court Judge Jack Holland who presided in the courthouse during Fields’ tenure, recalls him as an effective lawman with a special talent for communicating with young offenders.
“I knew him a long time. He was an excellent sheriff. I was particularly impressed with him, because he would always try to straighten out young people,” Holland said. “He would make a special effort to go by and see them, and try to get them on the right path. I was handling a lot of juveniles then, and really appreciated it. He didn’t give up on them.”
Attorney Fred Head of Athens said Fields was well-liked by his contemporaries.
“Charlie always cared about people. He was an outstanding sheriff in every way, and a good friend,” Head said. “The people of Henderson County will miss him greatly.”
Fields was swept into the sheriff’s office in November, 1980 by more than 6,000 votes. The Democrat carried every box in the county over Republican Robert Simmons.
Fields campaigned on the promise to make the office more efficient, and have deputies who are active in the community.
“They (the people) want a fellow who will shoot straight with them, protect their property and deal with the drug problem,” Fields said.
Fields grew up in Henderson County, and attended area schools before moving to East Texas State University, where he earned a Masters degree in government administration. He later worked for the Dallas Independent School District and the Athens Independent School District.
“My previous experience will be to the benefit of the people of Henderson County,” Fields said during his sheriff’s race. “I stand for good government for all the people, administered in a fair and economical way.”
Fields retired from the HCSO in 1986 to make way for H.B. “Slick” Alfred.