The news that Deputy Frank Butler passed away Wednesday morning was difficult to hear, but not unexpected.
"He fought a hard fight. What a Christian man, and what a pillar in the community," Butler's friend Sheriff Mike Byrd said.
The veteran law man and father of four was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in June of 2006. Since then, family and friends say Butler struggled to live his life as normally as possible.
"When he was undergoing treatment locally, he would still come to work. And that spoke a lot of his character."
Chief Deputy Don Steward says Butler exemplified dedication to his law enforcement career, community and his family.
"He was the one of our finest officers, you never heard a complaint. And Frank was always upbeat and going," Steward said.
Friends and family say Butler never let the cancer deter his spirit. He hoped to beat the disease, and even traveled to Florida for chemotherapy treatments. But the cancer continued to eat away at Butler's strength.
Last week, the community he cared so much about helped grant him a last wish.
"His final wish was to come home and die in Jackson County, and see his home and friends, and family," Butler's friend Carla McGrath said.
Thousands of dollars in generous donations brought Butler home just six days ago.
"He gave a thumbs up to us. He was very weak in speaking, but he was amazed. He was shaking his head in amazement," McGrath said.
"It was kind of bittersweet to know he was where he wanted to be when it happened, and then a sadness because he will be missed," Kim Sanderson said.
"Frank is gone, but he will never be forgotten. I can assure you of that," Stewart said.
Funeral arrangements have been made. The viewing will take place Friday night from 6-9pm at Wade Baptist Church. The funeral will also be held at the church, Saturday at 10am.