Sheriff’s department remembers longtime jailer

Staff members at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department were mourning the lost of a longtime jailer Tuesday.

Clyde Davidson of Crothersville passed away unexpectedly Monday afternoon, Sheriff Rick Meyer said. It was his 79th birthday.

Meyer made the announcement on the department’s Facebook account Tuesday and said the flags had been lowered to half-staff in his honor.

He last worked a shift at the jail Sunday, Meyer said, overseeing the visits for families and inmates.

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“It was sad and a shock,” Meyer said. “All of us were his friends, and I’d say he died a happy guy knowing he got to work with people he liked being around.”

Davidson, who began his career at the jail Jan. 1, 1982, more or less became an icon there over the last 37 years with many remembering him for his caring and fair spirit.

Meyer said Davidson was “the face of the jail” during visitations and was friendly to everyone. He said he also was well-liked by his co-workers, who learned a lot from him.

Davidson was so well-liked by his co-workers that in 2017, they pooled their resources together to purchase a Chevrolet Cobalt for him when they realized his vehicle had 200,000 miles on it. The group presented it to him during a luncheon in his honor for his 35th work anniversary at the jail.

“It’s one of the greatest things ever,” Davidson was quoted as saying after he received the car.

Meyer said Davidson was well-liked because of his demeanor, friendliness and willingness to teach and mentor jailers who were new to the department.

“He always tried to keep it lighthearted and tried to make people laugh and keep me happy,” he said. “He loved to talk sports, politics, and he didn’t like people not being happy. He would always try to cheer you up.”

Meyer said Davidson was liked by the public, too. Meyer worked a shift at the department’s fair booth Monday evening, and many people saw Davidson’s photo on the wall in the booth.

“About a half-dozen people were talking about Clyde and surprised he was still working and seemed to love him,” he said. “It was sad because they didn’t know he had passed.”

Jail Commander Chris Everhart worked with Davidson ever since he started at the department nearly 20 years years ago. Since that time, Everhart has gotten to know Davidson as a co-worker and friend.

Davidson trained Everhart when he was hired by the department. Everhart was told by an EMS crew that Davidson wanted to give Everhart a message in case he did not survive his medical emergency.

“He told him, ‘Call Chris and tell him that if I would happen to kick the bucket, don’t worry about it, it’s going to be all right,'” he said. “For me personally, we were pretty close, and it meant a lot to me, and I think Clyde knew where he was going.”

On Tuesday, Everhart wore a black strap over his badge to honor his friend. He said the department as a whole was sad about the loss of their friend, and his wife, Amber, purchased cookies for everyone to give them a little something to cheer them up.

In Everhart’s early days of training with Davidson, he remembers him teaching him how to do the job by conducting pat-down searches, book in inmates, taking photographs correctly and all of the jail’s rules.

While he taught him how to do the job correctly, Davidson also mentored Everhart to do it the right way with purpose.

“This job can be stressful at times, and you have to be level-headed and treat everyone with respect,” he said.

Detective Sgt. Stan Darlage, who has worked at the sheriff’s department since 1991, said Davidson was a mentor for every person who worked as a jailer over the years.

Like Darlage, who began as a jailer in 1991, most went on to careers as police officers either with the county, Seymour or elsewhere.

“I learned everything about being a jailer from Clyde,” he said.

In the early 1990s, there were only four jailers, and Davidson worked the day shift and Darlage would have the second shift.

“He would help me out each night and get me started,” Darlage said.

At that time, Davidson’s assigned number was 1-J. Darlage said he expects it will be a long time before a sheriff assigns that number to another jail officer.

“1-J was Clyde,” he said.

Darlage said Davidson was well-liked by jailers, police officers and many inmates.

“He had a good amount of common sense and just the right amount of compassion,” he said. “You can’t have too much compassion because they (the inmates) will take advantage of you.”

Darlage said Davidson loved trivia questions.

“He would write down questions and ask people for the answers, and Final Jeopardy was a must,” Darlage said. “He always bet a Coke, and he got on quite the streak there for a while and he couldn’t drink them all. He started saying he would take the 50 cents instead. I think he just wanted the money.”

Everhart remembers Davidson loving trivia, too. Davidson was interested in American history, particularly about presidents, and also biblical history.

“He’d constantly go around and ask American history trivia,” he said. “He’d even keep a list of questions to ask people. If you showed an interest in it, he’d ask you all the questions he could.”

Davidson also enjoyed playing Scrabble, and that was back when there might be a prisoner booked into the jail overnight.

Everyone would be asleep, leaving the jailers and dispatchers with time on their hands. They would fill that time with a game of Scrabble that might last for two or three days, Darlage said.

Everhart came up with a simple description of the man who was so well-known throughout the jail as a jail officer who respected all.

“He was a great man who loved people and loved God,” he said.