BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A longtime southwestern Illinois sheriff wanted to stay in office until next May, when he'd observe 60 years in law enforcement. But his wife says his health simply wouldn't allow it.
Eighty-one-year-old Mearl Justus stepped down as St. Clair County's top law enforcer Tuesday, roughly two months after having had his gallbladder removed.
His wife, Audrey Justus, tells The Associated Press that her husband was in the hospital Wednesday for a procedure and that he acknowledges it was time to retire.
Justus was first elected sheriff in 1982 and has served eight terms. He became police chief in Cahokia in 1962.
Undersheriff Rick Watson will be sheriff until the St. Clair County Board appoints a replacement to serve until a special election.
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