2006: CALHOUN HIGHWAY NAMED FOR FALLEN SHERIFF: Park Richards "A Hero In Life, A Hero In Death"


Dedication ceremony for Park Richards Memorial Highway held
Saturday, standing Sheriff Carl Ballengee, seated (L-R) Del. Bill
Stemple, former sheriff Allen Parsons and Richards' nephew Greg Collins


By Bob Weaver 2006

Calhoun County Sheriff Park Richards, cut-down in the line of duty 30 years ago, "Was a hero in life, a hero in death," said nephew and police officer Greg Collins, speaking Saturday at the dedication of the Park Richards Memorial Highway.

A number of the Richards family participated in the dedication, which included a program led by sheriff Carl Ballengee, former sheriff Allen Parsons, police officer and Richards' nephew Greg Collins, Delegate Bill Stemple, and pastor and former law officer C. W. "Mac" McDonald, who was with the fallen sheriff when he was shot to death by a mentally disturbed man in 1976.

Collins, a Washington County, Ohio deputy sheriff, (later a Parkersburg police officer) has led the effort to designate November 18 as Park Richards Day and have Route 16 south of Grantsville to the Ritchie County line named the Park Richards Memorial Highway.

"I would hope that years from now when people pass the signs, they will be reminded that law enforcement officers are on the line to make sacrifices for them," Collins said.

Police officer Greg Collins (left) remembers his uncle
and former Sheriff Allen Parsons (right) pays homage

"I was six when uncle Park was killed. I was in awe of him as a person. When I decided to become a police officer, my family questioned my decision," he said.

Collins recalled the death of a Fayette County academy buddy "who was shot execution-style while arresting a man for DUI."

"You don't have to like your police officers, but I hope you will respect them for what they do," he concluded.

Former sheriff Allen Parsons paid homage to Richards, saying Richards was a mindful, responsible, trustworthy and honest police officer.

"He had the desire to protect and serve his county, doing the duty he had sworn to uphold," Parsons said, quoting scripture "Blessed are the peacemakers."

"He never faltered," in his final hour, Parsons said.

Pastor C. W. "Mac" McDonald recalls tragic event
and Route 16 Memorial Highway sign is unveiled

Retired State Policeman, former Calhoun magistrate and current pastor of the Brooksville Baptist Church, C. W. "Mac" McDonald said "Thirty years ago today I learned how quickly life can change for a police officer. A normal, routine matter turns bad and there is no way of turning back."

"I can't explain why I came out of that hollow and Park did not," he said, "He was my friend, and it was my privilege knowing him."

McDonald said he is concerned how few people seem to appreciate law officers today, or thanking them for their service.

The ceremony was dismissed from the courthouse to Route 16, where the memorial highway sign was uncovered.

Former sheriff Allen Parsons, speaking to the Richards family, gave a scriptural example - "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

"I would hope that years from now when people pass the signs, they will be reminded that law enforcement officers are on the line to make sacrifices for them."

See "A PURPOSE FOR EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN" - McDonald Recalls Sheriff's Tragic Death 30 Years Ago