Georgia’s oldest living trooper’s ‘larger-than-life stature’ inspired others

The oldest living Georgia State Patrol trooper is being credited for being an inspiration to others.

Troopers recently visited retired Sgt. James Franklin Terrell, Jr., at the Franklin nursing home where the 93-year-old now lives.

And for one trooper, a visit Terrell made to his seventh grade class (taught by Terrell’s wife Jollie) inspired the student to start a career in law enforcement, according to a Heard Citizen article.

J. Don Stultz, now a GSP captain, wrote a letter to Terrell recently, saying his sacrifices were felt by many troopers over the years.

“I remember the blue and gray patrol car, your uniform, and your larger-than-life stature,” Stultz wrote. “Just your presence caught the attention of each student in the school, you spoke volumes simply by driving your patrol car to the school and stepping out. I was always raised to respect the law, but Georgia State Troopers were special in my young eyes. Your actions helped influence me to do the right things in life, and become a Georgia State Trooper.”

Terrell’s son told the Heard Citizen that one Terrell’s career highlights was protecting Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights leaders visit to Albany in the 1960s.

But one incident would have a major impact on Terrell’s career: a nearly fatal shooting on Valentine’s Day 1969.

A shotgun wielding felon shot him near Lafayette. Terrell would later hang his blood stained uniform in the hospital as motivation.

Following the shooting, Terrell was appointed as head of the Motor Vehicle Inspections Division for Northwest Georgia. The former U.S Army veteran took a medical retirement from the state patrol in 1972.

Terrell’s heroic actions that day in 1969 have been relayed to many troopers over the years, Stultz wrote.

“I have often used you as an example to motivate young Troopers,” the letter said. “I tell them of a Georgia Trooper that was larger than life.”

Stanley Dunlap: 478-744-4623, @stan_telegraph