Library honors late deputy
LaGRANGE — The memory of Pat Owens remains strong in the minds of her co-workers and friends nearly a decade after she died from a sudden heart attack.
As a Troup County Sheriff’s lieutenant and jailer from 1992 until her death in 2007, Owens was remembered as a determined and focused leader — and an avid reader.
Honoring that, the sheriff’s office dedicated a new inmate recreational library Friday in her name.
“I think it’s an absolute honor to remember her contributions years later,” said Owens’ daughter, Terry Perry. “For them to think of her like that, to remember stories about her all this time later, it really is amazing.”
Perry, who cut a yellow ribbon to mark the library’s opening, failed to fight back tears as she gazed at the wall-to-wall shelves of donated books. She hugged her son, 9-year-old Ethan Perry, as they and other family members toured the new amenity for the first time.
The library was the brainchild of sheriff’s Lt. Marty Reeves, who approached Sheriff James Woodruff about the idea after seeing a similar set up in the Harris County Jail.
“The sheriff encourages us to be creative about our jobs, to think outside the box,” he said during a short memorial ceremony before the library’s ribbon cutting. “If we give the inmates something constructive to do, maybe we can make a difference.”
Reeves coordinated with Gene Rodgers, a volunteer who oversees the Harris County Jail library.
All of the books were donated, Reeves said, and the materials to make the shelving were purchased with profits from inmate commissary sales, which must be used on inmates. With a certain pride in his voice, he noted “no taxpayer funds were used in this project.”
Rodgers will also oversee the Troup County Jail library and visit it weekly, Reeves said.
The library, once an empty and unused room, now bears a plaque honoring Owens along with her portrait hanging high on a wall. Already, 94 inmates have checked out books and magazines — National Geographic has been a popular one, Reeves said.
It’s a privilege to use the jail’s library, and inmates must return the books before they can check out more. Although Owens won’t be there to enforce consequences for abusing the library, during her time at the Troup County Jail, she trained a new generation how to keep order.
“She always wore her hair in a pony tail, and if you ever saw her tuck that pony tail in her shirt and take off her glasses, you knew someone was in trouble,” said sheriff’s deputy Fayne Buchanan.
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