RED JACKET — “My friend, my brother – our fallen sheriff,” were the words Mingo County Judge Michael Thornsbury used to open the funeral of the late Sheriff of Mingo County, Walter “Eugene” Crum.
Several thousand attended the visitation and funeral of Sheriff Crum, who was gunned down as he was sitting inside his official vehicle in downtown Williamson last Wednesday. Over 500 law enforcement officials were in attendance from all across the nation including Alaska, California, Mississippi and Texas. 273 police cruisers participated in the funeral procession as a show of respect to the fallen sheriff.
Judge Thornsbury spoke of the great love Eugene had for his family, saying he and the late sheriff never had a conversation that his widow’s name or those of his children didn’t come up.
“He had such a sense of pride in his family, they came first in his life,” stated the judge. “You couldn’t tell where the Crum’s ended and the Martin’s (his wife’s family) began. They were a solid unit…they stood together.”
Thornsbury spoke of the many private conversations he shared with Eugene, remarking that a man’s character isn’t measured by statements and remarks made in the public eye, but rather by those made in private.
“That being said, I can tell you that my friend Eugene Crum was a man of his word, his word was his bond. Never one time in all the years that I’ve known him has he ever lied to me. If he told me something, I could bank on it,” said the judge.
“He was a true gentleman and he had a heart bigger than this state…but when he put that uniform on and the gun on his side, he would do whatever it took to see that justice prevailed. He always had compassion, even for those he arrested. He tried to help those with problems to overcome addictions, help them see there was a better life out there for them that didn’t involve drugs and crimes. There have been so many people come up to him while I’ve been by his side and asked if he remembered arresting them, and then proceeded to say the words – you saved my life.”
“What greater thanks could any officer hear that would mean more than that?”
Thornsbury spoke of how Eugene began his law enforcement career as a corrections officer and then worked as an officer with the Matewan Police Department, where he worked with Chief Dave Stratton for 11 years before accepting the Chief of Police position with the Town of Delbarton. He then served as a magistrate for 10 years, 6 of those being as chief magistrate, before resigning to run for the office as sheriff.
“This was a dream that he had for many years, he wanted to serve and protect as our sheriff,” said Thornsbury. “He got to see a lot of his dreams fulfilled and not too many people can say that.”
The judge was very emotional as he told those who attended the funeral that Eugene proudly served Mingo County as their sheriff for 93 days, and stated that he wished he would have recorded every one of them because they are such precious memories.
“57 felony drug convictions in 93 days…he did his job, he kept his promise, and we are united and committed to continue his legacy. The flame he lit will never be extinguished. His watch here on earth may have ended but I feel in my heart that his spirit will always be by his wife’s side, as well as all the deputies and will be their guardian angel…their protector.”