Known as a big man who was well-respected and very soft-spoken, Blanco County Sheriff Bill Elsbury, 60, passed away at his home in Johnson City on Monday morning, February 20, after a fall. He was transported to Hill Country Memorial Hospital in Fredericksburg where he was pronounced dead, according to published reports.
Chief Deputy Robert Morgan, who is now serving as the acting sheriff, has said Elsbury died suddenly of natural causes. A cause of death hasn't been released, but Morgan told AP that the Sheriff was stricken after working in a field.
Elsbury had been the Sheriff of Blanco County since January 1, 1996. Before his long tenure as Sheriff, he worked for 24 years with the Houston Police Department. Elsbury had filed for re-election as a Republican; he was running unopposed.
He is survived by wife, Debby, who is the Blanco County District Clerk, son William Jr., and daughter Lee. Services for Sheriff Elsbury will be held on Thursday, February 23, 2012, at 2 pm at the Liberty Lighthouse Church, located at 321 Old River Crossing Road in Johnson City. A reception will follow at the First United Methodist Church at 105 LBJ Drive, also in Johnson City.
"It's just devastating to Blanco County," said Blanco Chief of Police Milton Willmann. "It's a small populated county; we work together with everybody. We're surely going to miss him. He was a good sheriff; he took care of his folks and his community. We're going to really miss him."
Willmann added that Elsbury was very well respected and his cooperation with the county agencies was without question. "His agency, he and his folks, always assisted us no matter what. Sometimes we didn't have to ask; they were down here to help." Willmann said that his agency would be doing what they could to help while the Sheriff's Office deals with the loss.
"The law enforcement world lost one of its greatest police officers today," Johnson City Chief of Police Randy Holland said in an online post.
“He was just an all-around good guy,” Holland said. “He would help anyone in need, and he was one of the best police officers I've ever known.”
"I certainly was shocked and disappointed to hear about his death this morning," said Blanco County Republican Chairman Ann Hall. "He had filed for re-election and did not have a Republican nor a Democrat opponent."
Hall recalled several years ago when she asked Elsbury to speak at a Republican Meeting. "He graciously agreed to speak. That was the largest number of people that had ever attended a Republican meeting since I became the Blanco County Republican County Chairman. Fifty or more people showed up to hear him, and he did not disappoint.
"He had a demonstration and modeled on a target how a stun gun operates and showed a training film about terrorism. His message was that he, and his officers, were prepared," Hall continued. "He was so soft-spoken in person, but when he agreed to give two invocations at meetings, they were strong and heartfelt. I have no doubt that he is with God. But, he sure will be missed in Blanco County."
"It's a tragedy to lose a good man," Willmann concluded. "In law enforcement, they're very few and far between."