Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sheriff Richard T. McGrath, Deadwood Wall of Fame

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Credits: Dustin Floyd dustin@tdgcommunications.com and Deadwood Historical Preservation Committee http://www.deadwoodhistorylink.com/

Lawrence County Sheriff McGrath's full name is Richard T. McGrath. I and many others knew him as "Dick". He was much shorter in height than average but commanded respect because that was what he gave others. He was my personal role model and mentor, I enjoyed being around him and the Sheriff's office. He appointed me a Deputy Sheriff in 1957 but I had to agree to stay in college, graduate, and get good job in industry. He said I could always come back later and learn to be a full-time Deputy. I graduated in engineering in 1959 and went to work for the Boeing Company. Dick's advice and guidance were excellent. My Deputy appointment probably expired with the next Sheriff who was Chuck Crotty DHS56. See copy of my appointment certificate and badge below.

Dick told me about his face-off with "Tiny" and his gang in the middle of Main Street. Tiny glared down at him and said "I have heard a lot about you and you look kind of small to me!" Dick looked him in the eyes and said "Ya, I am but I carry a BIG gun!" Dick carried a .357 Magnum which was considered a cannon handgun in those days. In one earlier scary shoot-out it took six shots from his .38 to stop the bad guy. From then on he carried a handgun that would stop someone with one shot. At the time, the FBI training and creed were, "We don't draw our gun to warn or wound." So Tiny was informed and smart enough to leave and live.

I believe that Dick was influenced by Deadwood's visiting FBI Special Agent Tony Shea, who encouraged Dick to attend the FBI's law officer's training and certification. Dick's natural talent and ethic made him a legendary success from this training. I have a family friend who was an FBI Special Agent. In the early 1970s he had a summer assignment at the Rapid City FBI office. My friend's FBI special skill led him to work closely with Sheriff Dick McGrath and he observed that Dick was truly greater than his legend.

In my days, Dick had a frequent sidekick, an SD State Patrolman named Jim Rumboltz. Jim was a giant of a man and they made an odd couple. Jim was a legend in the State Patrol, too. The mere presence of the two of them ended trouble before it began. They would laugh together about avoiding trouble, but when they were tested they did not flinch and always prevailed.

Hugh McGrath, Dick's brother, has told me that Rumboltz wrote a book in later life. Hugh looks just like Dick. (See picture of myself, Margaret Vancas McGrath DHS53, and Hugh at the 2007 All DHS Reunion). The bloodhound dog in the WOF was after my time . . .


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