Last Ormsby County sheriff, Robert Humphrey, dies at 80 at home in Paradise Valley
Appeal Staff Writer
Robert Humphrey served Carson City during a time of change. He was the last sheriff of Ormsby County and the first sheriff when the county and city consolidated.
He was in charge when a new law enforcement center opened. He was responsible for the creation of a volunteer wing of the department that still operates.
But, for the generation of leaders who served under him, it was what he stood for and believed, not what he did, that left the biggest impression.
Humphrey was found dead Wednesday afternoon at his home in Paradise Valley, about 15 miles outside Winnemucca. He was 80 years old.
“Sheriff Humphrey really believed in this community and believed in the sheriff’s office being involved and a part of the community,” said Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong.
Furlong’s connection to Humphrey was more than just sharing a badge and title.
“(Humphrey) was a real close friend of the family. In the 1960s when Ormsby County and Carson City merged, he appointed my father as his ‘arguable undersheriff.’ As a kid, I got to witness a lot of things happening that have made Carson City what it is today,” Furlong said.
In 1966, as undersheriff of Ormsby County, Humphrey established the Aero Squadron, a reserve organization still in existence. Since its inception, the squadron has donated more than $20,000 to local charities, including the Special Olympics and the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada.
Members have donated more than 900 flight hours conducting airplane rides to raise money. More than 2,300 hours have been flown conducting searches, transportation, surveillance, extradition and communication relays.
Humphrey was elected sheriff for the first of two terms in 1966 and served until 1975, through the consolidation of Ormsby County and Carson City in July 1969. During that time, he established a cadet program to encourage interaction with the community.
“He was the first sheriff that I know of to create a cadet program and a lot of leaders have come out of that program including (Douglas County Sheriff Ron) Pierini, who was one of the cadets,” Furlong said.
Pierini entered the cadet program and later became a deputy sheriff under Humphrey at age 21.
“Bob Humphrey was a man of integrity and honesty without question. He was a great man who brought leadership to the sheriff’s department. He believed in law enforcement as a profession of honor and integrity and that we are here to serve the public,” Pierini said.
“He demanded nothing less than professionalism and honesty. You knew exactly where you stood and you were accountable for your actions. He was a great leader and a just a great man.”
During his tenure, Humphrey also oversaw the move into the current office for the Carson City Sheriff’s Department in 1966 and was looking forward to returning to the area to see the new building, Furlong said.
He left the area after losing a close and divisive election to Pete Rastner in 1974.
Humphrey was preceded in death by his wife, Betty, and is survived by his daughter, Nicole, son, Robert, and stepson, Rich.
“Every time I think of him, I picture him in his suit and cowboy hat. He was just a pillar to me as a young boy. I have always believed in that man, always believed in what he stood for and I have tried to get the sheriff’s office back to what he did,” Furlong said.
“He was a very strong man and I am very sad to see him go.”
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