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93-Year-Old Texas Deputy Will Wait to Retire

Tom Morgan, now 93, never embraced the slow pace of retirement.

For decades, Morgan had been a man of action -- a combat Marine, a World War II veteran and then a globe-trotting oilman who retired at age 62.

"I built birdhouses and I mowed the grass and I followed my wife's grocery cart around," Morgan said. "That just got old."

His wife, Pat, was less than thrilled when Morgan floated the idea of becoming a reserve deputy with the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

"She just blew her top. She said, 'You're an old grandpa. What are you doing talking about going into the sheriff's department?'?" he said.

Morgan pressed her until she grudgingly relented.

"She said, 'Go ahead and do it. It's your hide,'?" he remembered.

Today, he volunteers at least 500 hours a year as a reserve deputy, often spending 20 hours a week in uniform. His favorite assignment is with the marine division, where he was recently patrolling through choppy waves just off the Kemah Boardwalk.

He has no intention of stopping.

"If I'm feeling good, I want to be doing something," said Morgan, who has been widowed since starting his law enforcement duties. "I don't want to loaf around and watch TV."

Some at the sheriff's office didn't exactly roll out the red carpet 21 years ago when the retiree approached them.

"They said, 'We don't need any old coots,'?" Morgan said.

At least one supporter helped smooth the way: Martin O'Brien, chief of the department's Reserve Command.

"He had the enthusiasm, and physically, he was in great shape," O'Brien said. "He has a tremendous number of marksman awards."

Academy standout

If Morgan wanted to become a deputy, though, he still had to pass the physically and mentally demanding Harris County Sheriff's Academy.

"They cut me not a bit of slack," he said.

Morgan did pushups and situps alongside men 50 years his junior, even keeping pace during the regular runs. He was a standout on the firing range at the academy.

"I used this one, plenty, in the Marines," he said, slapping his Colt .45 pistol in its holster.

Two years ago, he had to be shocked by a Taser to be certified to carry one.

"I'm glad my preacher wasn't there. There's no telling what I said," Morgan said.

Since joining, he's worked as a patrol deputy in the Harris County Jail and as an investigator checking out potential new hires.

He is now assigned to the marine division, where authorities enforce water safety regulations, respond to drownings and assist boaters in distress.

About three years ago, Morgan watched as a personal watercraft flipped over on Lake Houston. A man and his two grandchildren were thrown into the water.

"We pulled the kids into my boat, and we helped him get the Jet Ski righted," Morgan said.

The two children, who were no more than 10, had no interest in climbing back onto their grandfather's watercraft.

"I just told him, 'I'll meet you at the dock,'?" Morgan said.

In the genes?

Morgan said he will remain a reserve deputy as long as he's able to do the job.

Good health may be in his genes. Morgan's mother and maternal grandmother both lived to be 100. He said just being active -- physically and mentally -- may be the key.

"I have a girlfriend," he said, "and we like to go dancing."

Next on Morgan's to-do list: learning to speak Spanish.

Copyright 2013 - Houston Chronicle

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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