Samuel Sublett Jr. was the 35-year-old leader of the then Illinois Training School for Boys at St. Charles when a head count revealed two escapees. Sublett tracked them to a nearby farm. But when he reached the top of a ladder to search for the boys in a hayloft, Sublett found a shotgun pointed at his face.
Sublett merely had to ask for the weapon, and the boys relinquished it. So went the story of Sublett's early days in the world of corrections, according to a May 1966 article in Ebony magazine.
Sublett recently died in his St. Charles home at 84.
The Ebony article portrays him as part teacher, part parent and part disciplinarian to the boys at the St. Charles juvenile corrections facility, which still exists today.
"Most of these kids are basically no different from those out on the street," Sublett is quoted in the Ebony article. "They get into trouble, there's no one to go to bat for them, and they wind up here."
Sublett went on to spend more than 40 years in the world of corrections, literally writing the book on national standards for both adult and juvenile correctional institutions along the way. Sublett served in several leadership positions with the American Correctional Association. He was awarded the Walter Dunbar Accreditation Award, the highest bestowed by the Commission on Accreditation for Corrections, for his work in creating a 10-volumne set of comprehensive corrections standards. The standards set the bar for corrections operations in adult and juvenile corrections, parole, probation and community-based jails.
Marge Webster, a family friend, referred to Sublett as a "correctional giant" in online memorial book for Sublett. "Sam has always been a great role model for the new (people) in the business and someone to admire for those more seasoned. We will miss you, Sam."
Sublett is survived by his wife, Phyllis; four children; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Visitation is 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, at the Moss-Norris Funeral home, 100 S. Third St., St. Charles. There will be a memorial service at 10 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home. Memorials should be sent to the Salvation Army in St. Charles. For more information, contact the funeral home at (630) 584-2000 or visit mossfuneral.com.