Hundreds pay tribute to fallen sheriff - - The News for South Mississippi

Hundreds pay tribute to fallen sheriff


By Doug Walker – bio | email

LUCEDALE, MS (WLOX) - The sight was stunning. The courthouse in Lucedale was surrounded by hundreds of police officers Monday morning, the beginning of a procession totaling more than 500 cars.  Tributes to the fallen lawman poured in. 

Stone County Sheriff Mike Farmer was very close to Welford.  They were elected to office the same year. 

"Sheriff Welford was a friend of mine, plus a friend to all the law enforcement community," Farmer said.  "It's a great loss of a good friend." 

Officers came from as far away as Georgia.  No distance was too great. Sheriff Richard Stringer, from Washington County, Alabama, said he felt a real need to be here. 

"Well certainly me being a small town sheriff from a small county like Sheriff Welford, it meant a lot to me, because we are all in the brotherhood and we all work together," Stringer said.

Somber faces and badges covered with black tape were common sights.  So was the show of respect as the police procession arrived at the Shady Grove Baptist Church.  So many cars there was barely room to park them all. 

Officers hope the displays of affection and admiration will comfort Welford's family. One of those is patrolman John O'Neal, from the Spanish Fort, Alabama Police Department. 

"It's very important because it gives peace to the family and it shows that everybody can come together and pay tribute to one of our fallen brothers," O'Neal said.  

"If it happened to me, I'd want this," Ocean Springs Police Sgt. Leonard Lee said. "I would want this many people coming to my funeral, if it was me.  It kind of gets you." 

What also gets you is the obvious impact Garry Welford had on his law enforcement friends and the entire population of one small South Mississippi county.  

Following the service, Welford was buried in the nearby church cemetery.

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