Former Merced County Sheriff Jerry Brockman died Wednesday at age 71 after a long struggle with cancer.
Brockman was born in Mann, W. Va., on Feb. 26, 1940. He grew up in Las Vegas, where he joined the Marine Corps in 1957. He married Florence Gayle Lawler in 1959, and they had two children, Janelyn Denisse and Cory Richard.
After his discharge, Brockman became a police officer for the Atwater Police Department, then took a clerk's job at Nilo's Market in Winton.
In April 1965, Sheriff John Latorraca swore Brockman in as a deputy sheriff and assigned him to Planada. Brockman started attending Merced College in 1967 and earned a degree there two years later, when he was also promoted to sergeant. He was reassigned to the Los Banos substation.
In 1982, Brockman was promoted to captain and to undersheriff the next year. He established an Officer Assistance Program and began pre-employment psychological screening of sworn staff.
In July 1989, the Board of Supervisors appointed him sheriff after the retirement of Bill Amis.
After Tom Sawyer was elected sheriff in 1990, Brockman returned to his position of undersheriff. He retired in 1993. His contributions to the department included advancing its technology-based resources, establish computer-aided dispatch and an automated records management system.
The Brockmans were married 52 years and lived on a ranch in Atwater.
Brockman was an avid car enthusiast and a dedicated volunteer at Our Lady of Mercy School. He especially enjoyed barbecuing on Field Day. He loved to travel with his wife, Gayle, especially to Hawaii.
Brockman is survived by Gayle and his children, Janelyn Brockman (Mark Paredes) and Cory Brockman (Sasha Brockman), and grandchildren Chandler Brockman, 16, Matthew Brockman, 13, Lauryn Brockman, 10, and Matt Paredes, 15.
A memorial service will be held at Our Lady of Mercy School in McKenna Hall at 2 p.m. Friday, 1400 E. 27th St., Merced.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any donations be sent to Our Lady of Mercy School.