A retired sheriff who still served as a part-time deputy in western Kansas has died of COVID-19 complications, according to the Sherman County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office posted on Facebook about the death of 69-year-old Doug Whitson on Thursday afternoon. Whitson was appointed the Sherman County sheriff in 1995 and then ran and won the elections in 1996 and 2000 — both times earning more than twice as many votes as his closest opponent. He didn’t run for sheriff in 2004, but came back to serve as a part-time deputy in 2013.
“Thank you for your decades of commitment and service to this community,” the sheriff’s office said on Facebook. “Rest Easy, we will take it from here.”
The post had dozens of comments:
“My heart goes out to his family, friends, past and present Co-Workers,” one person wrote. “Doug was an inspiring man and will forever hold a piece of history within our community!”
Goodland Police Chief Frankie Hayes said on the department’s Facebook page that Whitson worked for the department from 2006 to 2011.
“He would help anyone with no questions asked,” Hayes wrote. “He was also a teacher with a wealth of knowledge. He was always willing to educate less experienced officers. We are definitely going to miss you. Fly high brother, we’ll take it from here.”
Kansas has had 469,767 COVID-19 cases and 6,705 deaths, or about one death for roughly every 435 residents, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Sherman County, which has a population of around 5,917 people, has had 1,095 COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths.
Whitson isn’t the first western Kansas officer to die from COVID-19 complications. Longtime Gove County Sheriff Allan Weber died from COVID-19 complications in December 2020.