It's a sad day for many people in Tift County as they said goodbye to long-time former Sheriff Edd Walker today.
Walker died this morning at the age of 84 at his home in Tifton. And while he's been retired for nearly 17 years, many people still remember his commitment to the community and his love of protecting Tift county and it's residents.
Edd Walker served with the Tift County Sheriff's office for 36 years, 24 of those years as the Sheriff. But what people will remember him by won't be his commitment to law enforcement but love for the community and those that served him.
"Sheriff Walker was a very compassionate man," Said Tift Co. Sheriff Gene Scarborough. "He believed in giving people second chances but he was firm. And if you didn't do what he asked you to do he would do what he had to do."
Walker joined the department in 1960 as a Sheriff's deputy where he served for 11 years, but in 1973 the citizens of Tift County elected him as Sheriff.
"A man's word is his bond, and that's what he lived by and that's the way it ought to be," Said Sheriff's Major Robert Brannen.
Walker served as Sheriff for 24 years and during that time he gave several young men the chance to become deputies. One of those is now Lieutenant Dennis Reese.
"Back in 1987 Edd Walker had hired me as one of his deputies. I was one of the youngest deputies that had been hired at that time."
Reese says Walker gave him his first job at the age of 20-- an opportunity he'll never forget. "He's been a big role model for me and I really appreciate him for giving me the opportunity to work with the sheriff and serve Tift County."
But Reese wasn't the only young deputy who is still with the department today...Major Robert Brannen says Walker gave him a chance when no one else would.
"Sheriff Walker hired me as a 19-year-old kid with more hair and a different color back then in those days but I worked for him for 21 years," Said Major Robert Brannen.
He says Walker could always be seen wearing an off-white Stetson cowboy hat that came in handy every once in a while.
"Vicious dogs were after us going places to serve warrants and what have you and he would take that hat and literally back a dog down with nothing but that hat," Brannen said.
For 36 years, Sheriff Walker served his community until he retired on December 31, 1996. He was the seventh sheriff in the history of Tift County. Deputies say his door was always open.
"If you had a problem at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning and you called him, he would come," Brannen said.
"If his door was open and he wasn't busy, he would come out and shake your hand and ask you how you were doing," Gene Scarborough said.
But what people will remember most about Walker was his character-- a simple man who loved his family and his community.
Here is Walker's Obituary-
TIFTON - Edd Walker, 84, of Tifton died Monday, January 21, 2013, at his residence. Funeral services will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 24, 2013, at Tift Avenue Church of God. Rev. Joseph L. Crumley and Rev. Dan McEachin will officiate with burial to follow in Oak Ridge Cemetery. Billy Spicer, Jerry Crumley, Bobby Brannen, Rick Brown, Dennis Reese and Ray Merritt will serve as pallbearers.
The family will receive friends on Wednesday, January 23, 2013, in the Chapel of Bowen-Donaldson Home for Funerals.
Mr. Walker was born on November 28, 1928 in Tift County and was the son of Tom Walker, Sr. and Lula Mae Dillard Walker, both deceased. He was also preceded in death by twin daughters, Linda Faye Walker and Kathy Lynn Walker; and one brother, Tom Walker, Jr. He worked with the Tift County Sheriff's Office from 1960 to 1996, serving as a deputy for 11 years, three months and 15 days and serving as Sheriff of Tift County for 24 years, until his retirement. He was the second Sheriff in the State of Georgia to be certified. He was a member and trustee of Tift Avenue Church of God and was given the Most Inspirational Father Award by the church. The State Executive offices of the Church of God proclaimed May 23, 1983 as Edd Walker Day.
Sheriff Walker received the Raymond Merritt Law Enforcement Award in 1996; the Georgia Sheriff's Association Distinguished Humanitarian Award in 1979; the Georgia Sheriff's Past Chairman's Award in 1978 and 1979; the George A. Wright Memorial Award in 1997; and the Liberty Bell Award in 1992.
Sheriff Walker was vice-chairman of the Coastal Pain Sheriffs and Police Intelligence Unit; member of the Tifton Lion's Club and the Tifton Kiwanis Club; and received the Exchange Club Pioneer in Law Enforcement Award. He was a member of the Georgia Peace Officer's Association and a lifetime member of the Tiftarea Antique Automobile Club. He was also a member of the National Sheriff's Association; chairman of the Georgia Sheriff's Boys Ranch and the Georgia Sheriffs Association, by which he was honored numerous times for contributions to Boys Ranch. Victory Drive, where the Tift County Jail is located, was name Edd Walker Way in honor of Sheriff Walker.
Mr. Walker is survived by his wife of 64 years, Barbara Ottis Monk Walker of Tifton, who he married in 1948; one daughter, Patricia "Trish" Walker Fincher of Sylvester; one son and daughter-in-law, Ray and Mary Walker of Tifton; one brother, Glen Walker of Tifton; three grandchildren and their spouses, Bart and Jessica Walker, Michael and Teresa Walker and Lindsey and Bill Kaiser; and seven great-grandchildren, Marianne Walker, Raylee Walker, Riley Walker, Will Kaiser, Katie Kaiser, Walker Kaiser and Chancey Sanders.
You may offer condolences to the family at the online guest registry at www.bowen-donaldson.com. Services for the Walker family are being provided by Bowen-Donaldson Home for Funerals.
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