Longtime Ill. sheriff dies a week after retirement - FOX 35 News Orlando

Longtime Ill. sheriff dies a week after retirement

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BELLEVILLE, Ill. (Associated Press) -

Mearl J. Justus, sheriff for three decades in southwestern Illinois' St. Clair County, has died a week after retiring.

Current Sheriff Rick Watson says his longtime friend and mentor passed away Tuesday evening at a local hospital. He was 81.

Watson described Justus as a loyal, fun-loving friend who loved his job and was known as a practical joker.

Watson recalled how Justus once sent notices to people on his outstanding warrant list, telling them they were eligible for a pair of shoes at a new shoe shop, then arrested them when they came by.

Justus retired last week, two months after having his gallbladder removed. At the time, his wife said he was quite sick.

Watson says he'd visited Justus at the hospital about an hour before he died.

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