Some of the old-time sheriffs never even wore a gun. A lot of folks find that hard to believe… Gaston Boykin wouldn’t wear one up in Comanche County…
– Opening Scene of No Country for Old Men, narrated by actor Tommy Lee Jones
Gaston Boykin, 1906-1999. was a proud Texan and native of Comanche County. He accomplished many things during his 93-year walk on this earth. He served as sheriff of Comanche County for 26 of those years. But what I remember most is that he was a great friend to both of my parents.
My Dad was a lawyer during most of the years that Gaston served as sheriff, so their paths crossed frequently, often as they went in opposite directions. Despite the fact that they usually found themselves on different sides in the courtroom, they retained a strong friendship over the years, a friendship based upon mutual respect.
My mother and Gaston developed a strong friendship over the years as well. Their friendship was not based, as it often was back in those days, on the mere fact that she was the wife of his friend Ben. Gaston acknowledged my mother as a woman in her own right, an artist whose talent he recognized and admired. Even after my parent’s marriage ended, Gaston and Mom’s friendship endured, as did his friendship with my Dad.
Over the years, Gaston commissioned several paintings from Mom. One of the most notable was the portrait of John Wesley Hardin which currently hangs in the Comanche County Historical Museum and was featured in a post on this site on August 1, 2011 .
When he was just a 19 year-old cowboy, Gaston organized the first Comanche rodeo. A record 6,000 spectators attended the event. Gaston had a genuine interest in helping people and improving their lives, which made him a popular sheriff in Comanche County, so popular and well-respected, in fact, that during his tenure he never saw the need to carry a gun.
A cowboy to the very end, as an elderly man Gaston lamented, This is the first time in my life that I have not had a horse, but I can still dream, so I can ride.
Here is the portrait Mom painted of her very good friend Gaston Boykin in 1980:
Many thanks to his daughters, Marilyn and Judith, for sending a photo of it to me.
— Bonnie Sudderth