Recently, Jason McCahan won the Republican primary for the office of Nueces County Constable Pct. 2. He now faces Democrat, Dwayne Sada. McCahan has said many times that he wants to follow in the footsteps of Constable Ronnie H. Polston, a man who held the position for many years when the district was named Pct. 8. Who was Ronnie Polston? Why is he someone McCahan wants to emulate? Perhaps this article, written after Constable Poslton’s passing last August, will offer some insight into the kind of constable Flour Bluff and all areas included in Pct. 2 want and need.
Ronnie H. Polston, Sr., age 80, of Runge, Texas passed away peacefully surrounded by his family in San Antonio, August 21, 2019 from medical complications. Funeral services were held Thursday, August 29, 2019 at 10:00 am at Rhodes Funeral Home in Karnes City, Texas with the burial following at the Runge City Cemetery. At the Celebration of Life held Saturday, August 31 at the Kings Crossing Church of Christ in Corpus Christi, Texas, countless co-workers, friends, local dignitaries, and family members gathered to remember a man who spent his life making a positive difference in the lives of others, especially children. Several in attendance spoke of how he gave them assistance, direction, hope, and love so that they, too, could live better lives.
On December 31, 1979, Ronnie Polston, resigned from his duties as Nueces County Deputy Sheriff and set his sights on becoming a Republican candidate for Constable of Precinct 8. He had a choice of paying a $500 filing fee or gathering 127 signatures (2% of the number of Republicans who voted for governor in Pct. 8 in the last gubernatorial election). He chose the signature route and easily got the required number. Ronnie won the 1980 election and took office January 1, 1981 and became the first Republican lawman south of San Antonio in over a hundred years, or so he heard. Constable Ronnie Polston would spend the next 20 years earning the love and respect of all who came to know him, especially those of who lived in Flour Bluff.
Known for going above and beyond the call of duty, Ronnie made time to build a great department, reach out to the community, and get involved in ways most constables don’t. Ronnie, in addition to his assigned duties:
- Wrote a weekly column for the Flour Bluff Sun,
- Founder of Nueces County Foster Parent Association and co-founder of Texas Foster Parent Association,
- Served as advisor to Commissioner of Texas Department of Human Resources on matters concerning children,
- Created an Explorers program for teenagers to learn the value and skills of law enforcement,
- Provided school traffic direction every day at Flour Bluff ISD to help with congestion and speeders,
- Regularly spoke to school and community groups regarding drug abuse and individually counseled children and adults,
- Requested an efficiency study of his office (the first constable in the history of the state to do do),
- Served on the Juvenile Social Adjustment Committee of the Coastal Bend Council of Governments,
- Was a Rape Prevention Educator for the Crisis Intervention Service, and
- Was a positive role model for those who knew and worked with him.
This 20-year Navy veteran arrived in Corpus Christi in 1962, and except for three years, spent most of his Navy years here. His last military duty was on the staff of the Chief of Naval Air Training, NAS Corpus Christi. Ronnie didn’t return to Jacksonport, Arkansas, where he was born on November 26, 1938 to Arlie L. and Lucy Pearl Polston. Instead, he chose to become a Texan, spending 10 years just across the Oso in Perry Place before moving to Woodcrest Drive in Flour Bluff in 1972 with his wife Fran and 4 of their 10 children. The citizens of Flour Bluff looked to him and his deputies as their law enforcement agency even though the area was part of the City of Corpus Christi. They saw Ronnie as a special man who was their constable who dealt with them fairly, their neighbor who volunteered at school and church, and their trusted friend who cared about them and worked hard to make their community a great place to live and raise kids. Constable Polston was a man of the people who took the time to know them and help them become better at being good citizens.
“I was always available to the public – even if I was at home. My staff and I had a good relationship with the community,” Polston said at the Hall of Fame dedication held in 2018.
He reminisced about how his deputies would volunteer to work the intersection at the school and how they dressed up at Halloween to do it. “Oh, the kids and the parents loved it!” he said. “We really enjoyed going to the schools and talking to the kids. I’d show them things, give them books and stickers, and such, and I’d teach them what a constable does.”
Polston had his work cut out for him when he took office. He was faced with an aging building that needed lots of cleaning, repair, and painting. The department vehicles were also in dire need of maintenance. However, this did not keep Polston from focusing on the job he was elected to do, enforcing the law and tending to the requests of Judge John Cox, the justice of the peace.
“My goal was to improve everything at every level. Money was always an issue, and I just didn’t get everything done that I wanted to get done,” Polston said in an interview conducted in 2018. He spoke of how difficult it was to get the commissioners to understand that the needs of the Pct. 8 Constable were different from those of other precincts.
“I needed a vehicle for the island. I couldn’t get one because the commissioners thought they needed to be fair and give all the constables additional vehicles, which they couldn’t afford.”
Ronnie was born in Jacksonport, Arkansas, November 26, 1938 to Arlie L. and Lucy Pearl Polston. After leaving home Ronnie joined the Navy and served during the Vietnam War on the USS Maury as a Chief Petty Officer working in security as well as a radio operator. He was stationed in Iceland, Alaska, Hawaii, and ultimately at NAS Corpus Christi retiring in 1976. Ronnie then began a career in Law Enforcement working for the Nueces County Sheriff’s Department as a jailer, dispatcher, patrol officer, criminal investigator and was promoted to Sargent in charge of the Civil Section. He served as Pct. 2 Constable from 1981 until his retirement in 2000. A grateful community honored Ronnie for his service by naming the new county building after him in 2001.
“I never expected the building to be named for me, but I was very honored. I loved the Bluff and the job. I thank them for all those wonderful years. It was the highlight of my life.”
Ronnie married the love of his life, Frances L. Parks January 1, 1978. After retirement, he and Fran moved to the country outside of Runge, Texas, where he served as a preacher of the Runge Church of Christ. Ronnie is survived by his beloved wife of 42 years, Fran Polston, his siblings; Arlene (Ray) Brown, Linda Cotrell, Tommie (Bill) Fore, Janet Weaver, Marva (Aubrey) Herring, Sharon (Richard) Majors, Dennis (Annette) and Shirley (Hunter) Triebel. Also surviving are his children, Kathleen (Scott) Kirby, Jodie (Joe) Alley, Kelli (Mike) Stewart, Ronnie (Ermalinda) Polston Jr., Billy (Mary) Polston, Sandra Neitch, Wendy Polston, James Finch and Lori Finch. Ronnie will live on through his numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and the over 100 foster children whose lives he touched.
Ronnie was loved wherever he went. When Minerva (Minnie) Gonzales attended her former boss’s funeral in Runge on Thursday, August 29, she and a few others decided to grab a bite to eat at a local eatery.
“Included in this group were about 8 people, several from different departments that Ronnie gave them their start in law enforcement,” said Gonzales, who went to work for Ronnie May 5, 1991. “When we went to pay, the owner asked us why we were in Runge. As soon as we told him it was for a funeral, he asked if it was for Ronnie Polston. When we said it was, he gave us our meals for free. He said that Ronnie was a great man and a big part of their community. It just broke my heart.”
Ronnie Polston was known for his incredible work ethic, his desire to leave things better than he found them, and his heart for people in need. He lived an excellent life and gave of his time, talents, and resources to make his piece of the planet a nicer place to be. Rest in peace, good and faithful servant. You changed the world for the better.
Constable Polston was an integral part of Flour Bluff history, and has earned the right to be included in this series. If you have a correction or a story of your own about the people and events of Flour Bluff (Encinal Peninsula), please contact the writer and editor at email@example.com.
Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Flour Bluff, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer a glimpse into the past and present of the little community of Flour Bluff. She wrote for The Flour Bluff Messenger, wrote and edited for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper that existed from December 2017 to April 2020, served as copy editor on three books, and continues to tutor students of all ages in the lively art of writing.