Grimes County Jail Sargent Jim Adkins impacted many lives. Aside from the work ethic, leadership and commitment he showed while serving Grimes County for 22 years, what is valued most is the friendship he showed to fellow employees.
Adkins, who passed away at his home Saturday, June 13, had many nicknames including Jimbo, Sweet Jimmy, Sgt. Grumpy, Jim at the jail and many more, but those who knew him best knew he was a larger than life personality.
Grimes County Investigator and dear friend of Adkins, John Wren said, “his infectious spirit combined with quick wit filled a room and we loved him for it.”
Adkins was born in 1949. He was adopted and raised in Houston where he graduated from San Jacinto High School in 1968. Adkins connected with his biological father, Hal Pitman in 1981, and the two built a strong father-son relationship until Pittman’s death in 2016. He was privileged to also meet his sister Melissa Pitman Ferguson in 1996. The initial meeting blossomed into one of the closest family relationships he had.
The experiences of being adopted allowed Adkins to mentor former Grimes County Deputy Preston Goode and his wife Brittany during their adoption process. “Having been adopted himself, Jim gave my wife and I great advice on our journey with our adoption process,” explained Goode. “He will forever be missed by all who met and knew him.”
Adkins proudly served his country in the United States Army as a Private First Class in the Vietnam War. He was humbled to have served his country but rarely spoke of his time overseas.
In 1973 Adkins married Helen Calderon and the two shared Adkins’ only son Randy. Even after divorce, Adkins and Helen remained friends.
Adkins had stories to tell that grabbed your interest, causing you to hold onto every word he had to say. He particularly enjoyed sharing many of those stories while giving tours of the jailhouse.
Although he took his job seriously, like the time he and Cap Turner headed off the escape of a murder defendant, he also found humor in his job. Among his favorite stories was one he named, “The Saga of Frank and Pooh Bear.” In that story he and Blake Jarvis stopped the budding relationship between another murder defendant and an employee.
Though there were many aspects in his job duties that Adkins loved, there was one he enjoyed and impacted him most. Adkins was a counselor to many young people who were serving time at the Grimes County Jail. He was often asked by Sheriff Don Sowell to speak with a teenager that was heading down the wrong path or a first-time inmate.
“I’ve personally seen him (Adkins) pull offenders aside and talk with them to try to make them see they can do better with their life,” stated Wren. “Frequently he connected with them through his honesty about his own youthful experimentation with “funny cigarettes” or his 1996 arrest and overnight incarceration.”
Wren said there are men and women walking the Earth today who are free and living as responsible adults because Adkins took time to let them know someone cared and he believed in their ability to do better. Wren also recalls a former prisoner who completed barber school and drove to Grimes County from Cypress to cut Adkins’ hair for the final four months of his life.
Many family, friends and fellow officers gathered at Union Grove Baptist Church in Richards for Adkins’ funeral service Friday, June 19. He was laid to rest at Pool Cemetery. Adkins leaves behind a legacy and stood on three principles he hopes live on through others: Treat everyone with respect; Just because someone isn’t doing right doesn’t mean they can’t do better and if you want to make things better, invest in helping another person reach their potential.