Our Past Sheriff's
OUR FIRST SHERIFF - WILEY S. BRANNEN JR.
Sheriff of Union County from 1921-1941. Appointed to office on Sept. 27, 1921 by Gov. Hardee as the first sheriff of our new UNION County. Sheriff Brannen had previous law enforcement experience in Jacksonville making him the perfect choice for this appointment. Before Sheriff Brannen, law enforcement was provided by as part of Bradford County and the occasional Lake Butler Marshall. Sheriff Brannen saw a lot during this 20 year term of office to include - Our nation during the Great Depression (1928-35); a major escape from Raiford Prison (Sept. 10, 1930 - Inmate Swords convicted of murder); Prohibition was repealed in 1933; and in 1936 the Union County Courthouse was built with $39,000.00 (most of it by State grant funds). After retirement as Sheriff, Brannen went on to sell insurance. Brannen leaves a great legacy through his family (grandson - Clarence Brannen) in Lake Butler. His photo graces our Sheriff's Office walls as the First Sheriff of Union County, FL.
OUR 2ND SHERIFF - JOHN E. DEKLE
Elected to Office in 1940 and tenure began in January 1941. Served as Sheriff from 1941-1945. Sheriff Dekle's tenure began in the same year as the US entered in active participate in WW2 and lasted until the end of that conflict. During the entire extent of his term the mood of the county (and country) was distracted with civil defense on the home front and our armed forces on the war front. Sheriff Dekle's son, James "Sonny" Dekle, served our country as a U.S. Marine during World War II. Sheriff Dekle still has family in Union County and a Great Grandson on our department – Master Sergeant Todd Hanlon.
Sheriff Dekle's picture graces our walls as our second Sheriff of Union County.
OUR THIRD SHERIFF -- WILLIAM "Willie" CROFT
Sheriff of Union County (1945-1949). Elected in Nov. 1944, tenure commenced in January 1945.
Prior to his term as Sheriff, Willie Croft served one term as County Commissioner for Union County.
Born in Union County, he was the son of William Silas Croft and Frances Eugenia Harden who had migrated from Bradford County. Willie married Pearlie Etty Perce. Willie and Pearlie were the parents of six children: Nina, Wilford, Mildred, Freeman, Travis and Randolph. Sheriff Croft picture proudly graces our walls as the third Union County Sheriff.
OUR 4TH SHERIFF - LAURICE C. CLEMONS
Sheriff of Union County from 1949-1953. Elected in 1948 with tenure commencing in January 1949. The previous sheriff was Willie Croft. Sheriff Clemons served one term in office and was succeeded in office by Sheriff John H. Whitehead in an election in 1952. During his term of office, Sheriff Clemons saw the old school at Providence close and the issues of having to transport students all the way to Lake Butler. Also, during this time, the old Jail was dismantled, and the new jail was constructed on the north side of the courthouse where it presently stands today. Sheriff Clemons photo proudly is displayed on our Sheriff's Office walls as our 4th Sheriff of Union County.
OUR 5TH SHERIFF – John H. Whitehead
Sheriff of Union County from 1953-1985. Elected in 1952 and served one term as Constable of Union County before being elected as sheriff. He served 47 months in the United States Navy during World War II, with 28 months in the South Pacific aboard the U.S.S. Neshanic. In 1981, he was appointed Dean of Florida Sheriffs, having served in the office for 28 years. John married Vivian Crews and had three children. On January 10, 1985, after serving for 32 years, Retiring Sheriff John Henry Whitehead handed over the keys to his office to his son, the newly elected Jerry Whitehead. Sheriff John Whitehead’s photo is proudly displayed on our Sheriff’s Office walls as our 5th Sheriff of Union County.
OUR 6TH SHERIFF – JERRY WHITEHEAD
Sheriff of Union County from 1985-2013. Elected to office in 1984 with tenure commencing in 1985. He was president of the Florida Sheriff’s Association in 1991-1992, was educated at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Executive Institute and the FBI National Academy. Jerry received the Distinguished Service Award from the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency in 1988, serving on several professional commissions and boards. Sheriff Jerry passed away in office in 2013 with his son Brad being elected to the office in 2014. Sheriff Jerry Whitehead’s photo is proudly displayed on our Sheriff’s office walls as our 6th Sheriff of Union County.