Sheriffs passing leaves void in our hearts

&8220;The price of greatness is responsibility.&8221;

-Winston Churchill

James L. Jones Sr., who served the citizens of Shelby County as their sheriff from 1991 to 2002, passed away this past Friday, July 6, 2007; he was 71.

Sheriff Jones wore the badge of our county&8217;s top law enforcement officer for 12 years, but his service in our community began long before. It was in 1974 that Sheriff Jones began his career of service as a deputy sheriff. Impeccable integrity and a farmer&8217;s work ethic led Sheriff Jones up through the ranks, including serving as chief deputy prior to being elected to the office of sheriff.

Sheriff Jones did many great things while in office. He led several high profile investigations to the conviction of their perpetrators, managed the ever-growing responsibilities of law enforcement and oversaw the training and recruitment programs that helped create the well-deserved stellar reputation of current Sheriff&8217;s office personnel.

But perhaps one of Sheriff Jones&8217; greatest contributions to our community was his instrumental work in the development of the Shelby County Law Enforcement Chaplain&8217;s Association in 1994. The Chaplain&8217;s Association provides, in addition to many other contributions in several areas of law enforcement, death notifications to those who have lost a loved one.

In retirement Sheriff Jones served in the Alabama Silver Haired legislature, was appointed by Gov. Bob Riley to the State Safety Committee and actively participated in various ministries through his church.

The weight of such great responsibilities was no strain for Sheriff Jones&8217; broad shoulders. Meeting Sheriff Jones some years ago, I remember vividly thinking just how remarkably qualified he was for the office and that if someday he chose to retire, he would leave big shoes to fill. He did just that, and his passing last Friday has left an even greater void in our community and in our hearts. Sheriff Jones will be sorely missed.

Sheriff Jones is survived by his wife of 29 years, Debbi, daughter Regina (Jay) Sobczak, son James L. &8220;Buck&8221; Jones Jr., grandchildren Lee (Lakita) Brock, James Lann Jones, Jordan Marie Jones, and great grandchildren, Alyssa, Caroline, Ivy and Christian Brock