Tri-City Ledger -

By Joe Thomas
Ledger Editor 

Byrne spent life helping others

Former sheriff remembered for his heart


November 22, 2018


People who knew Scotty Byrne said he was a man of his word and spent his life trying to help others. The former Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff died Sunday at the age of 92.

A native of Atmore, Byrne moved to Brewton at a young age and attended T.R. Miller High School. He left after his junior year to enlist in the Army. He served in North Africa and Italy during World War II with the 5th Army, 88th Division, Anti-Tank Company 351st Infantry known as the 'Fighting Blue Devils'. Byrne was awarded three bronze battle stars and a Purple Heart.

After his stint in the Army, Byrne returned to Brewton and graduated from T.R. Miller and participated in the first T.R. Miller vs. W.S. Neal football game.

He was a two-sport athlete at the University of Southern Mississippi. He played baseball and golf and was the first person inducted into the USM Sports Hall of Fame for two sports.

In 1958 Byrne was elected as sheriff of Escambia County and served in that capacity until January, 1983. While sheriff, he was a strong supporter of the Alabama Sheriff's Boys Ranch that works to help young men. Byrne followed his father Gladin in his law enforcement career, with the elder Byrne serving as the county's sheriff from 1931 to 1934.

Frank Reid said he went to work for Byrne on Christmas Day in 1977 and the two continued a close friendship.

"He gave me a job when I really needed one," Reid said. "I'd been working construction and got laid off and I was broke."

He said Danny Joyner told him to go talk to Scotty.

"At the time I had long hair and a beard," Reid said of his job interview with Byrne. "He talked a few minutes and said 'get a hair cut and cut that shit off your face' and you have a job."

Reid went to work in the jail, working 24 hours on and 48 hours off. He went to the police academy and Byrne put him on patrol.

"Scotty was good to me," Reid said. "He always did what he said he would do, good or bad."

Reid said he quit once but Byrne hired him back.

"We didn't have but eight deputies to patrol county wide," Reid recalled. "Scotty simply said 'do the best you can do and if you need help, call'. I was thrown into the fire. I didn't know anything about law enforcement, but Scotty gave me a shot."

Reid saying being the youngest deputy and single he got all the transport jobs from New Jersey and San Antonio to Mississippi.

"I'd done anything for him and he'd done anything for me," Reid said. "He told me my job was not to get my ass whipped and try not to shoot anybody."

But Reid said he mostly remembers Byrne's big heart, even toward those he arrested and put in jail.

"He helped an awful lot of people in this county," Reid said. "He said that everybody that gets arrested are not bad folks. He'd lock them up, cuss them a little and would then try to help them get out and get a job."

"He was one of a kind and will be missed," Reid said.

Sheriff Grover Smith also echoed Reid's sentiments of Byrne as a man of his word.

"He was an amazing man," Smith said. "He had more energy than anybody I've ever known."

"Chief (Glenn) Holt once said of Scotty, if you didn't want it, don't ask for it."

Smith also said Byrne's generosity toward people was legendary.

"He genuinely cared about people," Smith said. "I never met anybody like him and there will never be another one like him."

David Stokes said his relationship with Byrne goes back to when he was a child with the Byrne family. He said he spent many weekends playing golf with Byrne and his sons Brad and Chippy.

"He never met a stranger," Stokes said of Byrne. "You could be anywhere in the country and tell somebody you were from Brewton and they'd ask if you knew Scotty Byrne."

Stokes said as a child his family and the Byrne family fished in Baldwin County and went on many dove shoots together.

He also said Scotty was always the life of the party once the fishing and hunting were done.

"He was a great golfer and he'd take you to the woodshed any time he could," Stokes said. "He was loved by everybody who knew him. He was a great man and will be missed."

Byrne's visitation will be held from 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Friday, Nov. 23, at Williams Memorial Chapel Funeral Home in Brewton. Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. at Union Cemetery with the Rev. Bobby Ellisor officiating.

Byrne is proceeded in death by his wife of 61 years, Ida Bradley Byrne and his sister, Arabelle Brabelle Byrne Jernigan. He is survived by two sons, Gladin Scott 'Chippy' Byrne III and Bradley Ellis Byrne of Brewton; five grandchildren; and nine great grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations in Byrne's honor to the Boys and Girls Ranches of Alabama at


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