Brownwood and Brown County law enforcement personnel joined members of the family of former Brownwood Police Chief W.A. “Toodle” Middleton Friday morning to dedicate a memorial tree on the grounds of the Law Enforcement Center.

“I’m very thankful for this,” current Chief Virgil Cowin said. “I went to work for Toodle in 1960, and he more than anyone is responsible for me going to work for the police department.”

The red oak tree, donated by Bob and Mona Housley of San Angelo, has been planted near a granite marker donated by Ben and Mary Rogers of Brownwood, and next to a statue donated by Wal-Mart as part of a previous Law Enforcement Appreciation Day event, Cowin said. The Housleys’ grandson, Sam Tomme of San Angelo, represented his family at the ceremony Friday.

“This is such a wonderful tribute,” Middleton’s wife, Betty, said. “We had 64 wonderful years together.”

Middleton worked as a Brownwood police officer from 1947 to 1950, became a firefighter, and served as Brown County Sheriff’s Deputy from 1953 to 1956. He was elected police chief in 1956, and served until May 1960. It was in February that year that Middleton hired Cowin for his police force. Middleton ultimately left law enforcement, and became sales manager for Jimmy Campbell Motor Company in Brownwood. He died Nov. 27, 2007.

“Toodle was a legend,” Cowin said at the ceremony. “If I ever had a hero, Toodle was my hero. If he didn’t like you, he wouldn’t talk to you. If he didn’t like you, you didn’t want to hear it anyway.”

More than a dozen of Middleton’s relatives were in attendance. One of his sons, Ronnie Middleton, served as master of ceremonies for the informal dedication, and he introduced Betty Middleton and her sister, Bonnie Allen of Early, and other law enforcement officials who participated. They included Deputy Les Rush, who chose the site for the tree and provided an irrigation system, and Chief Deputy Bobby Duvall. Middleton’s son Dale, of San Angelo, was also on hand.

“We’re glad we’re able to do this,” Sheriff Bobby Grubbs said. “It’s a fitting memorial for law enforcement, and for Toodle Middleton, too. It’s a wonderful day.”

Several family members said the site, to the left of the Law Enforcement Center’s entrance, would be appropriate for other memorials given to law enforcement officers who have served the county and city.