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Midland Sheriff Gary Painter Unexpectedly Dies At 72

Sheriff Gary Painter Standing in front of a pump jack. (Mira Oberman/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

By Mitch Borden

Over the holiday weekend, longtime Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter died. Painter was found unresponsive early Sunday morning in his home. Emergency personnel attempted to revive him — but were unsuccessful.

Painter served in the U.S. Marine Corps and went on two tours in the Vietnam War. After being honorably discharged as a Sergent from the armed forces, he began his career in law enforcement as a Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrolman in 1970. Painter would continue to serve as a peace officer for the rest of his life, almost 50 years.

Painter joined the Midland Sheriff's Office in 1982 and he quickly rose through the ranks. Only three years after he was hired, Painter would become the department's leader after being elected Sheriff for the first time in 1985. He held the office for more than 34 years.

Sheriff Gary Painter was 72 and is survived by his wife Patsy, his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

A visitation will be held on Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Nalley-Pickle & Welch Funeral Home in Midland. Painter’s funeral will be held on Thursday at the Midland County Horseshoe Arena at 2 p.m.

Mitch Borden is Permian Basin Reporter & Producer at Marfa Public Radio.