Stan Pachall remembers getting an assignment when he was a junior at Odessa High School. He was to list five possible career choices.
Now Pachall can’t remember what the other four were. The fifth, becoming a state highway patrolman, became his destiny.
After a 28-year career with the Texas Department of Public Safety, all with the highway patrol and all in Brownwood, Pachall is retiring this month.
“I’m not sure if it’s hit me yet, that at the end of the month, I won’t be wearing this uniform. In a way,” Pachall said, “it will be a sad day, I’ve been wearing it more than half my life.”
In 28 years, Pachall said, he’s seen the best in people, and the worst in people. But 95 percent has been the best and 95 percent of the people he said he’s dealt with have been good people.
Also, he said, he and wife Debbie feel they were blessed to stay all of his career in Brownwood.
“We moved here the day I graduated, and we feel like Brownwood, Brown County, just opened its arms and welcomed us. This is our home,” Pachall said.
Stan and Debbie were high school sweethearts and got married when they were 18. After graduating from Odessa High in 1975, Stan said, he attended Odessa College, then went on to the University of Texas as El Paso, not pursuing law enforcement, but not forgetting his dream either.
He applied to DPS, and in June of 1979 graduated from the DPS academy in Austin.
Things have changed over the years, things more than people, Pachall said. The biggest change, is when he started, he’d type his reports and make carbon paper copies. Now everything is computerized. His on-patrol communication was a five-channel radio, now the radios have hundreds of channels and troopers have cell phone back-ups.
He’s proud to have served the public, he said, and the career has been rewarding. But of course it hasn’t always been easy.
“I can be driving around and suddenly, come on a curve, and I’ll remember a wreck there that maybe was a fatality, or people were badly hurt. Maybe it was years ago, but it will come back to me just like that,” Pachall said.
“When you’re in a job like this, you see things you’d like to forget. I know, nobody likes to get a ticket, but from where we are on the law enforcement side, we can see why it’s so important for people to obey speed limits, why people need to buckle up and make sure their babies and kids are belted in their seats. If you’ve ever been at a wreck scene where a young baby — or anyone — is killed, you know getting a ticket isn’t the worst thing.
“My job’s been to protect and serve, and I’ve been dedicated to that.”
Now, too, after 28 years, he said he’s looking at quality time with the family. It will be nice knowing he won’t get called on a weekend, and nice to know he won’t be on duty for Christmas or other holidays.
“Debbie’s been my rock,” Pachall said, “she’s supported everything I’ve done and kept the family together and made it work those odd hours and holidays when I had to work, but I just think it’s time to look at a schedule that allows more family time for me.”
Stan and Debbie’s daughter and son-in-law, Christie and Nelson Smith, have a son, Clint, who will be 2 in November, and his retirement will allow for some serious — and fun — pawpaw time.
The Pachalls’ youngest son, Casey, is a junior at Brownwood High School and quarterback for the Lions. Their middle child, Chad, is also married and he and his wife, Amanda, live in Brownwood.
A come-and-go reception, honoring Pachall for his service, is planned for 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., Friday, at the Law Enforcement Center.
At first the trooper said, he’d wanted to “go quietly” and not have people “make a big deal out of this.”
But the more he thought about it, he said, he and Debbie decided they wanted to have an opportunity to say thanks to the people they had gotten to know over the years.
“I hope people will stop by. We’d like to see people. We’d like to say thanks, we were honored to serve.”