Law enforcement bids farewell to deputy

Nov. 06, 2012 @ 06:53 PM

Monroe's Main Street grew quiet around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday as the funeral procession for Deputy James Kirkley went down the street.

Kirkley recently died after battling brain cancer. He was a member of the Union County Sheriff's Office for 25 years.

Kirkley's funeral took place Tuesday and was followed by his funeral procession and entombment at the Lakeland Memorial Park Mausoleum.

"He (Kirkley) loved his family foremost," Major Brian Gilliard of the Monroe Police Department, said.

He had known Kirkley for a while and said that what he would remember most about him were his sense of humor, love for his job and love for his family, Gilliard said.

Shortly before the funeral procession started, Monroe firefighters worked to block off the street at the corner of Main and Windsor streets to set up fire trucks with an American flag in between them for the funeral procession. People lined Main Street as the time for the procession inched closer.

The crowd included friends of Kirkley's, fellow law enforcement officers, firefighters, people who heard about Kirkley's death and those who wanted to show their respects and others who only learned about the procession a few moments earlier and who wanted to stay and show their respect for a law enforcement officer. As motorcycles and cars began to flow down Main Street, people froze and watched.

Some who were already standing along the street removed their hats and placed their hands over their hearts while others who had just made it to the street also stopped and stood.

"He was just a great fun guy," Kenneth Jordan, who said he has known Kirkley since they were small children, said. He remembers playing with Kirkley as a child and was happy to see so many people come out to show their support for him, Jordan said.

"It's great that people came out and gave back to him," he said.

Kirkley spent half of his life as a deputy and did a lot to serve the community. He was glad to see members of the community giving back to him by coming out to see his funeral procession, Jordan said.

"A good guy, good sense of humor, would help you out any way he could," Lisa Laney-Pressley, a deputy clerk with the Union County Courthouse, said in reference to what she'll remember the most about Kirkley.

She and other Union County deputy clerks often worked with Kirkley, who worked as a sergeant at the Union County Courthouse A group of them came out along with Laney-Pressley Tuesday afternoon and stood at the corner of Windsor and Main Streets as Kirkley's funeral procession went by.

Nancy McCoy Duncan, director of business development for the Union County Chamber of Commerce, knew Kirkley as a fellow parent from Union Academy.She chose to attend as a way to show honor, appreciation and support for Kirkley in particular as well as other law enforcement officers for the work they do everyday to serve the community, Duncan said. She also spread the word to others in the community to encourage them to also come out and attend.

Vehicles from the Union County Sheriff's Office as well as various other agencies in and around Union County could be seen in the procession. As the vehicles passed by, Main Street grew quiet except for the hum from the motorcycles, cars and other vehicles in the procession.

As a black hearse passed by firefighters lined up by fire trucks holding the American flag, the firefighters saluted. Afterwards more vehicles passed by before the crowd dispersed and everyone went their own ways as the procession ended.