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Friday, May 17 2013 11:58 PM EDT2013-05-18 03:58:09 GMT
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Friday, May 17 2013 11:34 PM EDT2013-05-18 03:34:50 GMT
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RANDOLPH CO., GA (WALB) -
The memory of the longtime Randolph County Sheriff will not soon be forgotten.
Sheriff Gary Yochum collapsed in his home in Randolph County around 4:30 yesterday morning.
Now friends and family are mourning his death by remembering his life.
Randolph County Sheriff Gary Yochum's office is vacant but it's filled with many memories.
"He was sitting there smiling and joking, like he always did, that is the last thing I remember," says Gary Yochum Jr., Sheriff Yochum's son.
People who knew Sheriff Yochum would tell you he had two families, his two sons and wife of 39 years, and then his department.
"He wanted us to be a family, that was first, he believed in the family thing and that is what made him so good to work for because he treated us like we were his kids, if we got a new car or new gun, he would say 'all my kids want new toys to play with'," says Col. Eddie Fairbanks, Randolph Co Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy.
To Col. Eddie Fairbanks, Sheriff Yochum was more than just his boss...
"He was more like my big brother or a father figure to me," says Fairbanks.
Yochum mentored Fairbanks and helped him get his first job in law enforcement 23 years ago and they had worked closely ever since.
"Anywhere he would go, he had a sense of humor, I don't care if he was in the grocery store, the hardware store, he got to tell a joke before he leaves, he was just that type of person and everybody just loved it," says Fairbanks.
With a personality bigger than life, it is no surprise the news of his death came as a shock to everyone who knew him.
"I would say about 4:30 in the morning, we heard a thud through the house, I didn't think anything of it, I didn't think anything of it because stuff falls throughout the house all the time, and then I hear mom screaming, and I come out of my room and go to the kitchen, and Dad is on the floor by the sink," says Brant Yochum, Sheriff Yochum's son.
Family members say it appears he died of a massive heart attack early Saturday morning.
"I'll miss that call late at night when he would just call and talk, if I had a problem it didn't matter if it was 3,4,5 in the morning, if I just need somebody to talk to, my Dad was right there," says Yochum Jr.
And the loss isn't just great for his family, but for his department as well. Yochum had just begun his fourth term as Sheriff.
"I am going to miss everything, the hardest part is going to be coming into this department and he isn't coming in, but miss his character," says Fairbanks.
A character and man who won't soon be forgotten.
Yochum took office in 2001 and he just won re-election for his fourth term in November. He was 62 years-old.
His funeral will be held at 2 o'clock on Tuesday afternoon at the First Baptist Church on College Street in Cuthbert.
Visitation will be held tomorrow evening from 6 to 8 on Court Street.
Longtime Sheriff Gary Yochum died early Saturday morning around 4:30 AM. Yochum collapsed on the floor at his home in Randolph County.
He took office in 2001 and he just won re-election for his fourth term in November.
He was 62 years old. Funeral arrangement have not yet been made.