Say it ain’t so Juan, say it ain’t so

Published 10:37 am Tuesday, September 13, 2016

It nearly drove me to tears.

About a month or so ago, I received a call from Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan. Hearing his familiar voice on the other end of the line typically meant one thing….he and his capable staff had captured another evil-do’er and tossed him or her in the Juan Vaughan Hilton…better known as the Hertford County Jail.

Since Juan became Sheriff back in 1997, I’ve written several filing cabinets full of stories of the daring deeds of he and his deputies. I figured that phone call was to report another arrest.

However, the Sheriff had another story to share that particular day. He told me of his plans to retire.

Okay….no big deal, I thought. Juan has two years left on his current term in office (his fifth straight four-year term, by the way). He’s just being the gentleman he’s always been and announcing that he would not seek reelection in 2018.


What the Sheriff called to say was that he was retiring early… in by the end of September… in September of THIS year.

As I stated earlier, I came awfully close to experiencing wetness in the eyes.

Say it ain’t so, Juan, say it ain’t so.

“I’ve decided to hang it up,” he told me in mid-August. “I felt like you needed to know; we’ve worked closely together all these years. Of course you can’t release this (information) until I hand in my letter of retirement to the (Hertford County) Board of Commissioners when they meet on Sept. 6.”

He did exactly that.

And just like that, Juan will take off his badge, store away his service revolver, and hand in the keys to his county-owned vehicle.

I can remember my now late father asking me back in 1997 what did I know about Juan Vaughan. At that time, Juan had been appointed to fill the unexpired term of Hertford County Sheriff Winfred Hardy, and was sworn in for the first time on Jan. 1, 1998.

“Pop, I don’t know a lot about his skills as a law enforcement officer, but he’s got a mean jump shot,” I told my dad.

Back in the mid-to-late 70’s when I was just beginning my newspaper career in Ahoskie, I would help the sports guys cover high school athletics. At that time I took notice of a young man playing basketball for coach Mayo at Murfreesboro High School by the name of Juan Vaughan. He had good size and skills on the court back then, so much to the point that Juan landed a basketball scholarship to attend Fayetteville State University.

Fortunately for the citizens of Hertford County (and for this reporter), Juan opted for a life outside of sports and chose a career in law enforcement. He became a sponge, absorbing all the character traits of what it took to become a top notch lawmen from the likes of such legendary figures as Sheriff James Baker, Wesley Liverman, Joe Twine and Ronnie Stallings.

With his easy-going demeanor coupled with the ability to dole out justice equally among everyone – no matter the color of their skin or financial status – Juan Vaughan became the People’s Sheriff. He used the same professional skills to assist a stranded motorist or arrest a murderer.

And perhaps the biggest compliment paid to Juan came during each of his four election cycles. No one dared to challenge him for the office of Hertford County Sheriff. Folks, that’s respect…plain and simple.

I could go on and on about the admiration I have for Sheriff Vaughan. He and I built a great professional relationship and because of that, and due to his belief in transparency, the readers of this newspaper knew what was going on at the Sheriff’s Office.

Good luck in your retirement, Juan. Hope your golf game improves, but more importantly, hope you can enjoy spending some quality time with your family…especially those grandsons.


Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal