By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Five retired public servants were honored Thursday during Tarboro Optimist Club and Vidant Edgecombe Hospital Respect For Law and First Responder Banquet at Trinity Baptist Church.
Deputies Lt. Lorenzo Whitehead and Cpl. Kevin Cannon represented the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Department while Ret. Chief William "Billy Whitaker, Lt. Willam Anderson and Lt. Lyman Tyson were honored for the Tarboro Fire Department. Whitaker, Anderson and Tyson did not attend.
Feeling that it was a calling on his life, Whitehead joined the sheriff department in January 1989. He retired November 2012 after 23 years of service. Whitehead fought back the tears while giving his speech.
"Working in law enforcement it wasn't just a job for me," he said. "To me it was calling. I thank Sheriff (Phil) Ellis who hired me and I thank Sheriff Knight for keeping me. I really enjoyed my job. I also thank the Optimist Club for honoring me."
Kelvin Cannon began his career with the Tarboro Police Department in 1987. In 2005 he joined the Sheriff Department and In May 2012 the Tarboro native retired. After the service, Cannon reflected back on his tenure.
"What I enjoyed most about my career was dog handling," he said. "I had two dogs with the police department and one with the sheriff department. I think that will be what I am remembered for.
Cannon didn't stay in retirement too long. He was recently hired as a Edgecombe County magistrate.
Including the honorees, eight retired police officers and deputies attended the service. Tarboro Police Chief Damon Williams was the keynote speaker at the event. Williams praised all of Edgecombe County's first responders and law enforcement officers. He vowed that his department will continue to work with other agencies to keep Edgecombe County as safe as possible.
"The police department, sheriff department, EMS, the fire departments, we all work together as one unit," he said. "We also need your (citizens) help. Everything that you do to assist us it helps. When you see something let us know. We can't do it alone. We all have the same goal and that is keeping Edgecombe County safe.
I'm proud to be in Edgecombe County and I'm proud of clubs like the Optimist Club that recognize our officers."
The Respect For Law and First Responder Banquet was near and dear to the heart of former Optimist Club memberW.H. Horace Ward. Ward was a charter member of the Tarboro club. He died Jan. 8.
Optimist President Bobby Frueler announced that his club renamed the banquet the W.H. Horace Ward Respect for Law and First Responder Banquet in honor of the civic club leader.
"Everybody knows that he loved the Optimist Club," Frueler said about Ward. "I just wanted to let his children know that we are going to honor their father every year. We love him and everything that he did for this community. "