Sure, it’s OK. He’s only sheriff of the most populous county in the state and would probably rather field a thoughtful query about jail space or crime prevention. But, whatever, ask him the question.
Um, how’d you get the name “Doc”?
When Charles “Doc” Holladay first ran for sheriff in 2006 media from across the nation took interest in the local race featuring Republican Dewayne Graham and this modern namesake of the Wild West gunslinger and gambler. “I’m male and my surname’s Holladay” –the original spelled it Holl-i-day – “Invariably someone’s going to call you “Doc.” That someone was his first police partner in 1971.
“But Doc Holliday was far from a nice lawman. He was more outlaw than he was lawman.” Holladay should know. He’s a history buff. In fact, he wrote a history of the Little Rock Police Department when he retired the first time in 2003. Also, “I don’t drink. I don’t gamble. Don’t go around picking fights and shooting,” and as for women, he’s been happily with the same one, Deborah, for 42 years – six longer than Holliday was alive.
So, it’s OK if you ask him about the nickname but, now, can he move on?
Um, you ride horses, like in the Old West?
Well, yes, Holladay grew up around horses. Had one spooked from underneath him not far from the family home and business, Golden’s Grocery, in Wrightsville. Of course, people are his stock and trade now. “ I connect with people, black, white, Asian__ Part of that is being raised in a predominantly black community. My neighbors were predominately black. We had a basketball goal on a light pole behind the house and that was kind of a gathering place.”
Um, how fast are you on the draw, and …?
He’s moving on.
Since 2007 he has been on the board of the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches. In October he was selected board president.
Begun in 1976, the youth ranches have sheltered more than 1,100 children on campuses on the White River near Batesville, on DeGray Lake near Amity, on a farm in Mulberry, on the Spring River near Hardy and in Harrison. In many ways the lives of these youths are not unlike those in the foster care system. Specifically, these kids have ranch parents and are expected to go to school and participate in extracurricular activities.
In the course of his career Holladay has been to several law enforcement conferences, and he has sometimes brought up youth ranches, “because every state, every large community, should have an organization like the Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches.”
“We take kids who are abused and neglected – good kids from bad homes – we take them in, nurture them, give them an education, counsel them, give them a stable environment, and there are kids who have those kinds of needs in any county, in any community, in any state in this country.
“The ranch has this phrase – it’s easier to raise a child than repair an adult.”
Holladay says historically it’s not uncommon for parents to pull up the ranch in Batesville and drop kids off, but it’s not a springboard to a parentless future. Ultimately, he says, the “end result is for the families to be reunited.”