Museum Discovers Photograph of Mother with Her Son, Who Later Became Sheriff

Museum Discovers Photograph of Mother with Her Son, Who Later Became Sheriff

Frances Stark and her son Jimmy in Reliance, 1926.

SWEETWATER COUNTY — In the 1920s, garden contests were very popular in Sweetwater County coal camps like Winton and Reliance. Diane Butler, a Sweetwater County Historical Museum volunteer, recently discovered in museum archives a very special Reliance garden photo from 1926. Museum staff identified the two people in the photograph as Frances Stark and her 9-year-old son Jimmy; the occasion was Mrs. Stark winning second place for her Reliance garden that year.

“Jimmy” was Jim Stark, who went on to have a distinguished law enforcement career in Sweetwater County. He attended school in Reliance and Rock Springs, where he graduated high school. Stark enlisted in the U.S. Navy in May, 1941, and fought during the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7.

He married Rosamond Annabelle “Annie” Paterson in Rock Springs in 1943. A champion boxer, he joined the Rock Springs Police Department in 1946, going on to serve with the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office first as a deputy sheriff, then undersheriff from 1955 to 1977, when he was appointed Sheriff of Sweetwater County after Sheriff John Zakovich retired. Stark served as Sheriff until 1987, with his own retirement at age 69.

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Sheriff Stark died in 2000 and Annie passed away in 2014. Their son Stephen Stark, a Navy corpsman, was killed in action while serving with a Marine Corps unit in Vietnam in 1968.

Stark’s badge, on loan from retired Sweetwater County Sheriff Gary Bailiff, is currently on display at the museum.