Dooly County Sheriff Van Peavy died Tuesday after complications from surgery. He was 78.
He had just completed his 30th year in office after taking the post in January 1985.
Community members described the loss as something of a surprise for a civil servant who seemed to be in good health.
“He was still in full operation of the department,” Investigator Randy Lambert said. “He was a man that everybody enjoyed working for. He was a man that the community looked up to.”
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Dooly County Commission Chairman Terrell Hudson echoed that sentiment. He said Peavy was quick to give people second chances instead of holding youthful mistakes against them.
That gave the sheriff a special place in the community.
“He is the exact opposite of the caricature of the Southern sheriff. He helped everyone anytime he could,” Hudson said. “He was a father figure as much as he was a sheriff for a lot of people.”
Peavy was held in the same regard among his brethren in the law enforcement community.
Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills remembered the veteran sheriff as “pretty innovative” in the battle against drug trafficking along Interstate 75.
“He ran a very professional sheriff’s office down there,” Sills said. “All of his colleagues certainly respected him.”
Peavy was brought to Coliseum Northside Hospital in Macon after falling about 4:30 a.m. Monday, Coroner Marvin Bowen said. Peavy had surgery to repair a broken leg Monday afternoon and died about 3:40 a.m. Tuesday.
Bowen said the cause of death was cardiac arrest.
While full funeral arrangements have not been completed, Lambert said the service is tentatively set for Thursday.
Lambert said that the department was trying to forge ahead, even after the passing of its longtime leader.
“We’re going to proceed in a normal operation, just as if he were here,” Lambert said.
Peavy is survived by his wife, Gwen, and three children: Melanie Davis, Marsha Peavy and Stephen Craig Peavy.
To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331.