Willie Waggonner

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William Edward "Willie" Waggonner
Sheriff of Bossier Parish, Louisiana
In office
July 1, 1948 – May 9, 1976
Preceded by Louis H. Padgett, Sr.
Succeeded by Vol Sevier Dooley, Jr.
Personal details
Born (1905-08-07)August 7, 1905
Plain Dealing, Bossier Parish, Louisiana, USA
Died May 9, 1976(1976-05-09) (aged 70)
Plain Dealing, Louisiana
Resting place Plain Dealing Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Nell Evans Waggonner
Relations Joe Waggonner (brother)
Children Jacqueline Waggonner Gore
Parents Joseph David Waggonner, Sr.

Elizzabeth Johnston Waggonner

Residence Plain Dealing, Louisiana
Occupation Law-enforcement officer
Religion Southern Baptist

William Edward "Willie" Waggonner, usually known as W. E. "Willie" Waggonner (August 7, 1905 - May 9, 1976), was from 1948 until his death in office the sheriff of Bossier Parish in northwestern Louisiana. A native and resident of Plain Dealing near the Arkansas state line, he was the older brother of U.S. Representative Joseph David "Joe D." Waggonner, Jr., who held Louisiana's 4th congressional district seat from 1961 to 1979.[1]

Role as sheriff[edit]

The son of Joseph David Waggonner, Sr. (1873-1950) and the former Elizzabeth Johnston (1882-1957),[2] Waggonner was a deputy from 1936 to 1948, under Sheriff Louis H. Padgett, Sr., when he was elected sheriff at the time that Earl Kemp Long returned to the Louisiana governorship after an absence of eight years. Waggonner was a president of the Louisiana Sheriff's Association and a member of the Louisiana Peace Officers and the National Sheriff's associations. He was affiliated too with the Masonic lodge, Lions International, and the Chamber of Commerce.[1]

On December 5, 1959, Waggonner was handily reelected as sheriff in the same election in which his brother, Joe Waggonner, was an unsuccessful candidate for Louisiana state comptroller. Willie Waggonner defeated fellow Democrat Joe B. Mason, an Arkansas native, by a five-to-one margin.[3]

In 1967, Waggonner, along with his chief deputy and subsequent successor as sheriff, Vol Dooley of Bossier City, were accused of collusion with then Judge O. E. Price and District Attorney Louis H. Padgett, Jr. (1913-1980) of the 26th Judicial District (the son of the sheriff whom Waggonner had succeeded to the office) to rig the double murder trial of rodeo star Jack Favor of Fort Worth, Texas. Favor was falsely accused of shooting to death an elderly couple, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Richey, who operated a bait and tackle business near Haughton in Bossier Parish. Waggonner believed the false testimony of Favor's accuser, Floyd Edward Cumbey (1936-1998). After Favor's conviction, Waggonner some seven months later instructed Dooley to escort Cumbey out of state even though Cumbey had confessed at Favor's trial to having been an accessory to the murders. Favor was represented by former state Senator Joe T. Cawthorn. Jurors in the first Favor trial had also been told that Cumbey would serve a life sentence for the murders. Favor was re-tried in 1974, by which time Cawthorn had died and was replaced on the case by James B. Wells of Bossier City. Favor was quickly acquitted of the murders and released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary, where he had helped to organize the popular prison rodeo.[4][5] Favor sued for wrongful conviction and imprisonment but settled for only $55,000.[6]The actor Robert Norsworthy, under the fictitious name "Sheriff Gerker," played Waggonner in the 1998 television movie, Still Holding On: The Legend of Cadillac Jack, filmed in Cleburne, Texas. Clint Black starred as Jack Favor, Joe Berryman as Judge Price, and Sean Hennigan, under the film name "Earl Wiggins," as DA Padgett.[7]

On February 1, 1968, Waggonner hired Wilbert Anderson, the first African American deputy sheriff in Bossier Parish. Anderson was also the first black licensed bail bondsman in the parish. He retired as the first black detective in the department.[8]

Death[edit]

Waggonner died at the age of seventy at his home of an apparent heart attack, the fourth that he had sustained in the last years of his life. He and his wife, the former Nell Evans (1907-1989), had a daughter, Jacqueline Waggonner Gore, wife of the farmer Odie Lee Gore, Jr. (both born c. 1940), also of Plain Dealing. He had a sister since deceased, Mrs. Susie W. Carroll of Dickinson in Galveston County, Texas. He was preceded in death by a second brother, Johnnie J. Waggonner (1908-1968). Services were held at the First Baptist Church of Plain Dealing, with interment in the family plot at Plain Dealing Cemetery. One of his pallbearers, James L. Cathey, Jr. (1919-1996), was the mayor of Bossier City from 1973 to 1977.[1]

See also[edit]

  • Larry Deen, Bossier Parish sheriff from 1988 to 2012

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Bossier Sheriff Waggonner Dies", Shreveport Times, May 10, 1976
  2. ^ "Plain Dealing Cemetery interments". usgwarchives.net. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  3. ^ The Shreveport Times, December 6, 1959
  4. ^ "Not Guilty". cowboysforchrist.net. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  5. ^ ""Legal Blotch", January 6, 1982, p. 20". Paris (Texas) News. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Jack Favor, rodeo star ...". google.com. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Still Holding On: The Legend of Cadillac Jack". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Significant People". blackdigitalnetwork.com. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 


Preceded by
Louis H. Padgett, Sr.
Sheriff of Bossier Parish, Louisiana

William Edward "Willie" Waggonner
1948—1976

Succeeded by
Vol Sevier Dooley, Jr.