Retired San Diego Sheriff's Deputy on Turning 100: “Best Day of My Life”

The captain started with the department in 1940 and the only break he took was to serve in World War II

One hundred years old, and it’s the best day of his life.

Retired San Diego Sheriff’s Capt. Leland McPhie marked a century Monday, and his old department did not miss the chance to celebrate the remarkable birthday at the Sheriff’s Museum.

In honor of the centenarian, officials declared March 10 to be “Leland McPhie Day” in San Diego County. Among many gifts presented to him, McPhie was awarded a retired badge from the sheriff’s department with a special number on it: 100.

The captain started with the department in 1940, working in the old downtown jail.

The only break he took from that job was a 2 1/2-year stint to serve his country in World War II.

He made sheriff’s department history by becoming captain by the age of 40—the youngest person at the time to achieve that rank.

Sheriff’s officials said McPhie wrote the first Policy and Procedure manual for deputies who worked in the jail, and he helped design the newer central jail. He even designed a special lock for cell doors, which was patented.

McPhie retired from the department in 1969, but not before crossing paths with some infamous outlaws.

One of the most infamous, he said, was Billy Cook, a mass murderer who went on a killing spree in 1950 that ended with six people dead.

But being a century old has not slowed McPhie down.

Undersheriff Ed Prendergast said McPhie nearly missed his celebration because he is on his way to Boston to participate in the USA Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships, where he will compete in the high jump, shot put, discus throw and javelin throw.

“That spirit, at 100 years old, keeping going, and he’s just one of a kind, and we’re just all happy out here to celebrate his 100th birthday with him,” said Prendergast.

After the pomp and circumstance of Monday’s ceremony, McPhie planned to take in some relaxation.

“Where I live, there’s a swimming pool. I’m probably going to end up there,” he said.

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