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Remembering Lloyd “Tookie” Kirkham: Former Liberty County judge passes away at 81

Pct. 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur is sworn in to a second time period as commissioner throughout a ceremony on Jan. 2, 2019, within the seventy fifth State District Courtroom in Liberty. His spouse, Dana, holds a Bible for the swearing-in, which was officiated by former Liberty County Judge Lloyd “Tookie” Kirkham. Arthur beforehand served eight years as sheriff and has spent practically all of his grownup life in public service, beforehand working for Texas Department of Transportation and Texas Department of Public Safety. (File picture)

Former Liberty County Judge Lloyd “Tookie” Kirkham, who devoted 12 years of his life to serving the county till his retirement in 2006, handed away on Monday, April 29. His demise at age 81 leaves behind a legacy of dedicated public service and management that has deeply impacted the group. Kirkham had been grappling together with his well being since struggling a stroke a number of years in the past.

Throughout his tenure as county judge, Kirkham was extremely revered for his equity, knowledge, and steadfast dedication to the well-being of Liberty County residents. His affect prolonged far past the courthouse, together with his management instrumental within the realization of varied tasks, together with the SH 105 bypass in Cleveland.

Even after stepping down as county judge, Kirkham continued to be affectionately addressed as “Judge” by many Liberty County residents, a testomony to the lasting affect of his service. His counsel and pragmatic strategy to county governance had been wanted by quite a few officers, serving as a mentor to a number of, together with the present Liberty County Judge Jay Knight, Pct. 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur, and State Rep. Ernest Bailes. Throughout the challenges posed by declining well being, Kirkham’s opinions remained extremely valued and well-informed.

Reflecting on Kirkham’s affect, Judge Knight emphasised, “He was a good man to sit and talk to about county government. He always stressed that we as elected officials are here to serve the people. He said to never forget that.”

While the county has modified lots since 2006 on account of an explosion in progress and a rise in inhabitants, Kirkham’s opinions had been nonetheless solidly primarily based, Knight mentioned.

“He had seen it all and he kept up with things. As the county started growing, I would go visit him and toss out ideas, even about building the new sheriff’s office and county jail. For Tookie, it was always about the balance. He would say, ‘If you do this, you have to take it away from someplace else to make it work.’ You have to balance the financial side and still serve the people,” Knight mentioned.

Knight mentioned he’ll bear in mind the entrance porch talks with Kirkham at his residence in Tarkington, a recollection shared by Commissioner Arthur and State Rep. Ernest Bailes, who additionally had their entrance porch talks with Kirkham.

Arthur mentioned information of Kirkham’s demise, whereas anticipated, is devastating.

“I was there last week to see him and was going to visit him again today. Tookie and I have been friends forever,” mentioned Arthur, sharing that their friendship started a long time in the past whereas Arthur served in different capacities together with sheriff and DPS sergeant for Liberty County.

“He swore me into office every time I was reelected. This last time I was reelected, he was not able to make it to the courthouse because of his health, so he swore me in at his home,” Arthur mentioned. “Tookie and I talked about everything. I could tell him about things going on and have all the confidence in the world that what he told me was something I could rely on.”

Tarkington all the time held a particular place in Kirkham’s coronary heart, as his household’s roots run deep within the space. Descended from a few of the earliest settlers within the area, Kirkham’s connection to Tarkington was a supply of satisfaction all through his life.

State Rep. Bailes reminisced about accompanying Kirkham on drives via Tarkington and Liberty County, the place he absorbed the wealthy historic accounts of the world’s inhabitants spanning a number of generations. Despite going through declining well being, Kirkham had an unwavering curiosity in present affairs. Even throughout a latest main election, together with his well being failing, Kirkham demonstrated his dedication by showing at the polls to forged his vote, Bailes mentioned.

“Mr. Tookie was rock solid and truly one of a kind. He helped me immensely from my very first campaign, loaded up in my truck and we went all over Liberty County to put up signs and to meet folks. Even as his health was failing, it was good to see him on his front porch where he wanted to know everything that was going on and what I was doing. He loved people and was a dear friend who will be missed by everyone,” Bailes mentioned.

News of the judge’s passing quickly reached U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (TX-36).

“I was saddened to hear of the passing of my good friend, longtime Liberty County Judge Lloyd ‘Tookie’ Kirkham. He was a patriarch in the surrounding community, a wonderful mentor to many, a fantastic athlete and a devoted public servant. I’ve appreciated his support and friendship over the years and send my deepest sympathies to his wife, Cordella, and loved ones. He will certainly be missed by all,” Babin mentioned.

Kirkham was married to his spouse, Cordella, for 60 years. His survivors included daughters Kem and her husband, Scott Lewis, and Kehle and her husband, Eldon Lewis; grandchildren Rachel Oliver and husband, Jared, Colby Arnold, Parker Lewis and Charli Lewis; and great-grandchildren, River and Jaxon Oliver.

Visitation for Kirkham will likely be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at Oak Shade Baptist Church in Tarkington. His service will observe at 2 p.m. with burial to observe at Oak Shade Cemetery.

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