William Bruce Frith III was born in DeQueen, Arkansas, the eldest child of William B. Frith II and Hazel Marrs Frith. His family traveled to various work sites including Arkansas, Texas, and Montana. He acquired his name “Pete” as a young child.
After the deaths of his parents he came to Sheridan, Wyoming in 1956. He graduated from Sheridan High School in 1958. He worked different jobs while in high school including at Cook Ford Automotive Company and night clerk at a motel. He served six plus years on the credit committee, also as president of the Sheridan Public Servants Federal Credit Union. He recalled through the years his enjoyment of and participation in the Sheridan Toastmasters Group. To his children, he imparted the lesson of this group “become a master of speech and be not a slave to any man.”
Pete began his life’s work in law enforcement when he was hired as a dispatcher and jailer at the Cheyenne Police Department in January 1960. He returned to Sheridan June 1960 as a dispatcher for the Sheridan Police Department. Sheriff Willard Marshall (1939-1962) engaged him as Sheridan deputy sheriff in September 1961. The Department at that time had three positions; sheriff, undersheriff and deputy sheriff. He continued in the Sheriff’s Department with Sheriff Reuben Galloway (1963-1970), and Undersheriff George Miller until 1969.
Mr. Frith satisfied his military duty with the Army; basic training at Fort Ord, California and transferred to the Army National Guard of Wyoming. He received an honorable discharge upon fulfilling his obligation in 1968.
He completed one year at community college but continued his education throughout his adult years. He attended the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy in Laramie in 1965 achieving the Certified Peace Officer level, a certification he maintained throughout his employment years. Pete became an Instructor in the Peace Officer Training Programs of Wyoming such as the Tactical Use of Red Pepper Spray, Intoximeter 3000, Aerosol Projector and Chemical Munitions.
In 1969, Pete graduated from the FBI National Academy in Washington D.C. He participated at the FBI Firearms Ranges in Quantico, Virginia for instruction in firearms identification, use, maintenance and shooting practice. He had “administrative and executive instruction to advance law enforcement in the United States.” (Sheridan Press, 1969). In that year he was one of only 10 persons from Wyoming to have attended this academy. He completed the refresher FBI National Academy Refresher Course also at Quantico, Virginia and Washington D.C. in 1975. Other courses by the FBI included Fingerprint Classification and Investigation Techniques pertinent to law enforcement.
W. B. Frith was hired by Chief Robert Bradley as a Patrolman for the Sheridan Police Department in August 1969 and as Administrative Assistant to the Chief of Police,1970. Sheriff Galloway declined to run for election in 1970 and the field was filled with eight candidates. A write-in campaign launched for the 1970 primary election date promoted W.B. Frith as a write in candidate on the Democratic ticket. He garnered the largest votes declaration on the Democratic ticket and had numerous write-in votes on the Republican ticket for the August Primary Election. W.B. Frith was elected Sheriff of Sheridan County on November 1970. At age 30 he was one of the youngest persons to be elected sheriff in Wyoming. He completed the first term as sheriff. He was reelected Sheriff and served from 1995-1998.
He returned to the Sheridan Police Department in 1975-1994 achieving the rank of lieutenant. Della Herbst, mayor, requested him to be acting Police Chief until a permanent Chief was hired in 1993. Lt. W. B. Frith retired from the Sheridan P.D. in 1994. He worked at the Wyoming Girls’ School until leaving the workforce.
Pete was elected to Sheridan County Commission Office in 1974. He served as commissioner through 1986. While a county commissioner, he supervised the Sheridan County Fire Department. The county fire station building was expanded, and new fire trucks were purchased. The Commissioners Board changed the old sheriff’s residence/jail to county offices. The original courthouse became more aligned for persons with disabilities, and an extensive addition was annexed to the main court building. A Joint Powers (city & county) Board was formed to address mutual issues such as law enforcement, safety issues, and other criminal justice concerns. A Police Department and Sheriff’s Department Building and Jail Facility was built with 1 cent tax monies.
Governor Stanley Hathaway designated W.B. Frith to the Governor’s Planning Committee on Criminal Administration as a representative of Wyoming Peace Officers Association in 1974. Governor Ed Herschler reappointed him as a county commissioner member. “The Crime Committee was originally charged with research into the effectiveness of law enforcement programs in the state and with recommending or disapproving grants in aid for law enforcement related projects from Law Enforcement Assistance Act funds.” (Sheridan Press 1974) The committee proposed standards and qualifications of peace officer training, police resources, salary concerns, and jail facility conditions. He actively promoted the seat belt legislation.
As a member of the Criminal Committee Pete applied for a county “radio system for sheriff’s departments. He proposed the inclusion of road shops and equipment crews, county fire and fire district systems to the initial proposal” thus improving communication throughout county personnel. During his first term as sheriff the old county jail had much needed refurbishing and cleaning work performed. The sheriffs’ offices moved into the old residence. During his second term as sheriff, juvenile arrestees were no longer housed with adults but placed in more appropriate facilities. He pushed for improved health conditions in the jail by the restriction of smoking in the cells, office and public areas.
Pete was a life member of the Wyoming Peace Officers Association, Police Protective Association of Wyoming, National Sheriffs Association, FBI National Academy Associates, charter member, secretary of the Wyoming Sheriffs Association. He assisted on the advisory board of the Salvation Army in the 1970s.
His commendations include an appreciation certificate and letter from Governor Herschler for the committee work, American Legion Outstanding Law Man for Wyoming 1971-1972. He was designated as an Outstanding Citizen in Government recognizing his dual roles as “success in law enforcement and government as a hallmark of William B. “Pete” Frith. … Exceptionally fine service in Sheridan and Sheridan County were cited as reasons for his nomination for this award…. “Politically is a Democrat in a heavily Republican county, but that hasn’t prevented him from performing government service.” (Sheridan Press1983)
Charles Hendren, Chief of Police nominated Lt. Pete Frith as Employee of the Month for the City of Sheridan on June 7, 1993 based on his performance as Acting Chief of Police before Mr. Hendren was appointed permanent chief. Jim Kelsey, chairman of the Elks’ Law Enforcement Committee, named Pete the Peace Officer of the Year in 1997. Dining with Queen Elizabeth of England was one highlight of his commissioner years.
As evidenced by his 45+ continuous years in law enforcement and 12 years as county commissioner Mr. Frith dedicated his life in public service. He was loyal to his mentors. Pete became a compassionate leader to other practitioners in local government and law enforcement. He performed his duties with a kind, often wise word. He was noted for his truisms of life and for his many one-line witticisms. His expertise of legal issues was readily shared with family; in turn was greatly appreciated by his extended family. He valued and promoted the concept of women being armed–comfortably safe with guns. He accompanied family members or neighbors to the gun range for target practice. He could discuss at length, guns attributes with his neighbor.
W.B. “Pete” married Janet in 1967. Their union endured 51 years He provided for his family with great diligence. W. B.’s primary focus throughout his life was his family, wife and seven daughters, as well as his brother, sister and nephews. He welcomed his daughters’ husbands into the circle. He doted on his grandchildren. He cherished his in-law family and was in turn enjoyed by them. Mom, in-law always had a warm bread roll or piece of pie a la mode to offer him with his coffee. His favorite choice of pie could be either one “hot or cold”.
After retirement, he became a connoisseur of single malt scotch, namely the Glens – Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, and Macallan. He enjoyed the dedication of March 17 St. Patrick’s Day to Irish music marathons on the radio and phonograph. In later years Celtic CD’s or Scottish bagpipe music were often played during long drives or relaxation at home, no longer limited to one day a year.
William Bruce “Pete” Frith died at home. His parents, oldest daughter her husband and one infant grandson preceded him in death. His brother and sister, nephews and their families; sisters &brothers-in law families; his wife, six daughters, three sons in law, nine grandchildren, and four great grandchildren survive him.
William Bruce “Pete” Frith, February 22, 1940 to December 11, 2018
*Information provided by the Frith Family