Temporary job lasts 39 years
Perry Swiney, who didn’t set out to work in law enforcement, is retiring June 10th after 39 years at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Also retiring on the same day is his wife of almost nine months, Myra.
OC deputy and his wife to retire together
Life is a journey and along the way, the road can be filled with twists and turns. Perry Swiney who didn’t set out to work in law enforcement is retiring June 10th after 39 years at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Also retiring on the same day is his wife of almost nine months, Myra.
“God bless the broken road,” Myra said.
The oldest of five children grew up in Tennessee. When Perry was 12 years old, he and his family left their home in search of an income for the family of seven. It took the Swiney family two days to get to Southeast Texas. His father was able to find work at the shipyard in Orange.
Although he has lived in Texas most of life, Perry’s heart is in Tennessee. He returns “home” as often as he can.
Perry graduated from West Orange High School in 1975 and was the first to graduate from high school in his family. Although, he says his father was a very smart man and had more common sense. One thing he learned from his father was,” treat people how you want to be treated.” This has helped him throughout his life, not only personally, but professionally as well.
After graduating Perry went to work at American Bridge as a heavy equipment operator. He was laid off from work and a friend talked him into applying for a job at the sheriff’s office. His plan was to take the job until he could return to work.
“My temporary job lasted 39 years,” he said.
But, there was one problem once he was hired at the sheriff’s office. His parents had to buy his gun and bullets since he was not old enough to purchase them himself.
“There were no restrictions on owning them, just purchasing,” Perry said.
Perry started as a patrol deputy on the night shift. He also worked in corrections. Over the years he has seen many changes. For one, the building is not the same. The old sheriff’s office was nearby, but was a three story building referred to as the “dungeon.” It also did not have air conditioning in all areas.
For a brief time, 1979-80, Perry worked as a patrol officer with the Bridge City Police Department.
Before the days of computers, reports were handwritten. During his time spent in patrol, Perry was well respected, but known for his infamous red pen. He kept the pen in his shirt pocket for easy access. When an officer completed a report, it was reviewed by Perry. If he didn’t like the report, Perry used the red pen so the deputy would know where corrections were needed.
Perry said he likes working on the streets but for the past three years has worked in the civil department. The civil department serves citations, subpoenas and writs. Over the years, Perry has earned various titles such as captain, lieutenant and sergeant.
Perry has run for constable twice, but was unsuccessful at winning the election. But, he said it worked out for the best.
“If I had won I would have dedicated more time to my position and less on my personal life,” Perry said.
Myra is from Orange and can’t imagine living any place else. She is the fifth generation in her family to call Orange home.
Myra started working for Orange County in the treasurer’s office with Vergie Moreland. She stayed there for nine years. When an opening became available in 2005 to work in the sheriff’s office she wanted to apply. But, Hurricane Rita would put a damper on her application reaching the proper destination. When she evacuated she took her application with her. A short time after her return she was hired. However, at the time due to the damage to the building, the sheriff’s office was moved to an empty school in West Orange.
Life went on for the pair as they continued through their lives. Perry like many other employees walked down the long hallway and past the sheriff’s office where Myra was sitting at her desk busily working. The two never held a conversation but knew of each other.
On May 27th, 2014 they went on their first date to a local restaurant. It took them two hours to complete dinner due to the conversation. After dinner they weren’t done talking and having a wonderful time getting to know each other so they decided the conversation would have to continue.
The newlyweds have 12 grandchildren between them. They vary in age from infant through 19 years old.
Family is important to them. They are dedicated grandparents.
Perry is also quite handy around the house and has renovated nearly every room in their house.
“I am working on my honey-do list,” Perry said.
When not at work they spend time at their camp at the lake.
Pleasure comes in many shapes and forms. Perry has a motorcycle which he enjoys riding. But, Perry takes it a step further and is president of the Blue Knights International Motorcycle Club. The club rides together, promotes safety and does toy runs too.
Myra was not much of a motorcycle rider until she met Perry.
“I never thought I’d be on the back of a motorcycle,” Myra said.
Almost immediately upon their retirement the pair will be going to Hershey, Pennsylvania for a conference with the motorcycle group. They are both eager to go there and see the sites.
No matter where the road takes them, they both have had some setbacks. But, one thing is for sure, like the song, it is the broken road which is part of grander plan of total happiness that is now coming true.