The year was 1967. The population of Lewisville was just under 10,000. Lakeland Elementary was still new, established to serve the recent growth on the west side of 35E because historically, Lewisville existed largely east of 35.
As part of that growth, a new family moved to town over the summer. Their son would start sixth grade at Lakeland Elementary in the fall. He would go on to attend Lewisville Middle School and graduate from Lewisville High School. After that he would take a job in retail before he settled into his career – better termed his calling – as a public servant in the city that brought him up.
A lot of years have passed since the Kerbow family made their move with their son in tow, and a lot has changed in Lewisville. But Russ Kerbow, who most people would know best as Chief of the Lewisville Police Department, leads with the familiarity of someone who knows the ins and outs of the city and understands what matters to the residents – because he does.
That’s part of what led him to the LEF Board. This month he will wrap up his term as President of the Board of Directors and transition into the role of Immediate Past President, offering guidance and continuity as the Board leadership shifts to new hands.
Kerbow counts it an honor to lead the organization whose sole mission is to give back to the students and teachers of LISD. He recalls fondly when he was one of those students and credits the opportunities afforded him in LISD with making him who he is today.
“I’ve always made it my place to limit what I do to things that are kid related,” Kerbow said. “The welfare of the children in our area is our most important cause, and LEF certainly lines up with that.
“And, I got a great education here,” Kerbow continued. “I am a product of LISD. Not just the academics, which have always been solid, but the electives as well.”
Kerbow received his earliest leadership training as a student. He was a tuba player in the LHS band, and was selected as a drum major – the leader of the band – as a senior.
He went on to marry a fellow LHS graduate, and he and Becky raised their family in Lewisville; though somehow they ended up on the Marcus side of the high-school dividing line.
“It’s a funny story,” Kerbow said. “The kids actually asked if we would transfer them to LHS when it was time for high school. They had seen the Farmer Pride throughout their lives. But they had attended elementary school and middle school with kids who would go to Marcus, so they wouldn’t have known anyone at LHS. We sent them to Marcus and they did well, but it was really different sitting on the red side at football games! Becky would go shopping for red shirts, but she kept coming home with more maroon!”
James and Jaclyn, the Kerbow children, are grown now, with successful careers of their own. Kerbow continues to work on behalf of all the children of the community, with the goal of making sure the opportunities he and his wife and their kids had to create success are available to Lewisville students now and in the future.
“I have personally known Russ Kerbow in many different roles – parent of LISD students, husband, Lewisville Chief of Police, proud LHS alum, and LEF president,” LISD Superintendent Kevin Rogers said. “In all of these roles, he has demonstrated that he’s a true servant leader. As former principal of Marcus, I saw that he was always supportive of his children’s education and their schools. I appreciated that. It should be no surprise that I think it’s great that a longtime resident of Lewisville, a LHS graduate, could rise up through the ranks and become Lewisville Police Chief!”
Rogers appreciates Kerbow’s philanthropic side as well. “As Superintendent of Lewisville ISD, I have had the privilege to witness his genuine care for LISD students and staff in his role as LEF president,” Rogers said. “He has served admirably to further the fundraising goals of the organization while at the same time making sure we honor donors and benefactors, those that provide the funds to help. I am proud to call him friend and look forward to our continued work together to serve!”
Throughout the City of Lewisville and LISD people are honored to serve alongside Kerbow. “Russ is a caring man,” former LISD Administrator Doug Killough said. “He loves people, young and old. He values education.”
Killough sees Kerbow as a leader who takes action to create positive outcomes. “He wanted to expand the roll of the Chief of Police in his city,” Killough explained. “He chose LEF as an organization that would do this. This desire and his already exhibited leadership ability made him standout as the leadership choice for LEF. Russ has provided this same quality leadership and has served the Lewisville Noon Rotary Club through an outstanding year.”
Killough’s relationship with Russ began when Killough was principal of Lewisville High School. “I learned early on that as a police officer he was dedicated to his chosen profession,” Killough said. “He was very firm in his actions but fair to those whom he had to have dealings with who stepped outside of the law. He earned the right to become Chief of Police for the City of Lewisville because of his continued efforts to better himself in his profession. He earned the right because of the leadership skills he continually exhibited and the example he was as a man of honesty, a man to be trusted.”
The residents of Lewisville, the stakeholders of LISD, and the young people in the area are fortunate to have the advocate and leader they have in Kerbow. But Kerbow sees himself as the fortunate one.
“I wouldn’t be who I am today,” Kerbow said. “I wouldn’t have the leadership position I have now if not for the opportunities I was given as a student in LISD and a child growing up in Lewisville. The strong academics and the push into leadership through the electives available to me as a student made me who I am today. I attribute my success to those things.”