Local lawman joins hall of fame

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

George Wayman, whose name has become synonymous with the Osage County Sheriff’s Office, will be officially enshrined as a member of the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Induction ceremonies are scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Oklahoma History Center, which is located at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive in Oklahoma City. Refreshments will be served at 1 p.m., according to center officials,

Wayman, a 92-year-old Fairfax resident, is expected to be on hand. Current Osage County Sheriff Ty Koch, who nominated Wayman for the statewide recognition, also plans to attend the event.

“He is truly a legend in Oklahoma law enforcement,” said Koch. “It’s a personal honor for me just to have been the one who formally recommended him for the Hall.”

Prior to his long career with the sheriff’s office, Wayman had served as a tank commander with the U.S. Army. The future lawman received a Bronze Star, four Battalion Stars, an Arrowhead and a Good Conduct Medal for his World War II service in North Africa and Italy. As a reservist, Wayman was returned to active service in 1950-51, during the Korean Conflict.

Wayman, a native of Osage County native, was born Aug. 5, 1923, on a family farm seven miles southwest of Burbank. He was first hired as an Osage County deputy in 1955 by then-recently elected Sheriff Dick Streetman.

“I’d tried ranching and worked roughnecking in the oilfield,” Wayman said. “All of that came in handy when I became a deputy and, later, as sheriff.”

When Sheriff Streetman died a decade later, Wayman — who had been the undersheriff for seven years — was appointed as his successor. Wayman faced four opponents in 1966 sheriff’s election and won without a runoff. He was elected eight more times (seven times without a challenger) before retiring from the office in 1988.

“I knew just about everybody on the west side of the county and when I ran for sheriff I concentrated on getting to know people on the other side,” Wayman said.

Wayman was elected Sheriff nine times from 1965 to 1989. He spent a total of 35 years with the Osage County Sheriff’s Office and served the last 23 of those as Sheriff. According to Koch, Wayman’s tenure as sheriff was twice as long any other sheriff in county history.

“He was also the youngest Sheriff ever elected in Osage County,” Koch said of Wayman.

Koch said Wayman “worked hard to bring the Sheriff’s Office up to the place where it stood as one of the most respected and professional law enforcement agencies in the State of Oklahoma.” Wayman’s instructions and expectations of his employees was “to treat people the way they would like to be treated — with integrity, honesty and respect,” the current Sheriff added.

In 1970, Wayman and Tulsa County Sheriff Dave Faulkner organized the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association. Wayman also helped get legislation passed which placed all county elected officials on the same retirement system as state legislators.

Osage County’s current sheriff’s office and jail were constructed in the late 1990s, nearly a decade after Wayman had left office. In 2004, however, Osage County officials voted to honor the retired Sheriff by renaming the Osage County jail facility as “The George Wayman Correctional Detention Center.”

Wayman expressed his feelings this way: “Being Sheriff never seemed like a job, it was just an honor and pleasure to serve the people of Osage County.”

Three other men will be joining Wayman as 2015 inductees. They are: Drew Edmondson, who was the state’s Attorney General from 1995 to 2011; Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Chief Agent William R. “Bill” Keester and retired Oklahoma City police Maj. Kenneth A. Nash.