Services set for Lowndes’ Sheriff Vaughner

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 21, 2007

With the flags lowered at half staff and black ribbons on the courthouse doors, family members, officials and friends are mourning the loss of Lowndes County Sheriff Willie Vaughner, who died Friday evening of an apparent heart attack.

Vaughner, 58, was found unconscious in his home before being transported to Baptist Medical Center South in Montgomery. According to Chief Deputy John Williams, the hospital's parking lot was filled with law enforcement vehicles as word traveled of the sheriff's death.

&#8220He gave me my first job as a sheriff's deputy,” and emotional Williams said. &#8220I don't know how we will ever be able to replace him.”

Vaughner was appointed to the position of sheriff in 1993 by then-Gov. Don Siegelman following the retirement of Sheriff John Hulett, who had successfully won the bid for probate judge. Vaughner won three bids for re-election for sheriff.

Lowndes County's Emergency Management Agency Director Walter Hill said that Vaughner hold only recently told him the he was looking forward to retiring in 2010, and spending &#8220quality time with my wife, children and grandchildren.”

&#8220He told me that he liked to get away to fish with his son whenever he could,” Hill said. &#8220He enjoyed serving the people of Lowndes County. Everyone is still in shock and disbelief that this has happened.”

Vaughner created Law Enforcement Day in Lowndes County five years ago, and he also helped to build a memorial to officers who had been killed in the line of duty. He was a former state trooper and an Air Force veteran who had served during the Vietnam War, doing his tour of duty in 1970. In addition, he was the past president of the Alabama Sheriff's Association.

&#8220We are always saddened when we lose one of our own in law enforcement,” Crenshaw County Sheriff Charles West said. &#8220Sheriff Vaughner and I worked together many times in the past, and his sudden death is still a shock to everyone.”

Butler County Sheriff Kenny Harden was working with the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office in 1979 when he first met Vaughner, who at that time was a state trooper.

&#8220I've got a lot of respect for him,” Harden said. &#8220He's been a lot of help to me along the way. Since I've been sheriff, he's been the one I would call on for help. He told me to call on him day or night if I needed help, and he always fulfilled that. Sheriff Vaughner is respected by law enforcement all aroundŠ. He will definitely be missed.”

Chief Deputy John Williams will serve as acting sheriff until Gov. Bob Riley appoints someone to fill the vacancy.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, July 21, at noon at the Jackson-Steele Community Center in White Hall, Ala.