PROFILE OF FORMER VANDERBURGH COUNTY SHERIFF ERIC WILLIAMS
Former Vanderburgh County Sheriff Eric Williams grew up in the community and attended college at Indiana State University Evansville (ISUE) which would later come to be known as the University of Southern Indiana (USI). While at USI he served as President of his college fraternity, Sigma Tau Gamma and was also appointed by Indiana Governor Robert Orr to serve as the first student trustee for the newly created University of Southern Indiana. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business.
As a young boy, Vanderburgh County Sheriff Eric Williams was always fascinated by police and detective shows and was always curious anytime he heard sirens. Though this stayed with him throughout adolescence and into young adulthood, he always assumed that he would graduate and work in his family’s business. It was not until his college years that the idea of becoming a law enforcement officer became a very real possibility in his eyes.
During Williams’ time at the University of Southern Indiana, he chose to rush Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity. It was during his years living in the fraternity house that he came to be very good friends with a young sheriff’s deputy, a past Sig Tau brother himself, who frequently patrolled the area around the Sig Tau fraternity house. This friendship opened the doors to many other friendships in local law enforcement and it was not long before Williams was volunteering at the Sheriff’s Office to see just how much he would enjoy the atmosphere.
Williams thoroughly enjoyed his volunteer time at the Sheriff’s Office and when the opportunity came for him to become a guard in the jail, he jumped at the opportunity. It was during this time that Williams buckled down and committed himself to passing the test required for anyone wishing to become a deputy. This also included having a radial keratotomy to correct his vision to meet the vision requirements of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. He continued working the 3rd shift as a jailer until he was finally offered a job as a deputy in 1989.
Sheriff Williams gives much of the credit for his career in law enforcement to the young deputy that encouraged him to dip his feet into the water. That young deputy and fraternity brother of William’s was Brad Ellsworth. Ellsworth and Williams have developed a strong friendship through their years of public service. Upon the completion of Sheriff Ray Hamner’s administration, Ellsworth was strongly encouraged by many of the other deputies to take a run at the sheriff’s office himself. He chose to do so and was rewarded with Sheriff’s title and the ensuing responsibilities.
Upon Ellsworth’s election to the Sheriff’s position, it came time for him to appoint a chief deputy to serve directly under himself. Ellsworth’s selection for the position, now Lieutenant Eric Williams. “Brad Ellsworth is large to credit for my career-path,” Williams said. “The knowledge I gained while serving as Ellsworth’s chief deputy gave me the knowledge and desire to run for the sheriff position once his administration came to a close.”
After months of campaigning, Williams rose the victor and newly elected Sheriff, as Ellsworth moved on to serve as the elected U.S. Congressman for Indianan’s 8th district. Williams considers himself extremely blessed to serve Vanderburgh County as the Sheriff, “I am honored that the people of Vanderburgh County trust me to keep them and their families safe at home, at work and where they play.
Former Sheriff Williams’s also said “that he has many things to be proud of from his many years of dedicated service to the community. His proudest accolades, however, involve the development of his deputies throughout his administration. He is proud of both the deputies hired by himself as well as those that came before his administration”.
When he retired as Sheriff in 2014 he took a position with Old National Bank as the Senior Vice President, Director of Security; Old National Bank, Evansville IN.
Mr. Williams serves or has served on the boards of many local organizations, including being a member and Past President of the Board of Directors for Youth Resources of Southwestern Indiana, board member for the Red Cross, board member and Past President of Leadership Evansville, board member for Albion Fellows Bacon Center, board member for Marian Education Outreach, board member for the University of Southern Indiana Foundation, former board member for the Southern Indiana Higher Education Foundation and many others. Eric Williams and his wife Jude are members of St. James Catholic Church. He and his wife Jude have three children and two grandchildren.
The fact remains that Vanderburgh County was well represented by Eric Williams as the former Sheriff of Vanderburgh County for eight years. The citizens of Vanderburgh County owes him a big thanks for a job well done.