Waverly Hall Police Chief laid to rest - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Waverly Hall Police Chief laid to rest


Friends and family gathered at the Springfield Baptist Church in Waverly Hall Saturday to say goodbye to a man who was more than a historical figure.  He went beyond his duties as leader of the police department to extend his hand to help anyone who needed it.   

Emergency workers recalled Chief Wallace Marriner would help with even the smallest tasks.  They once arrived at a farm where cows were loose in the road, and found the Chief was already there shooing them back into the pen. 

"He was a great guy, just an all around great guy.  Chief, family, friend, he was just an all around great man," said his cousin, Joe Hollis.   

Chief Marriner received a funeral with full military honors and police departments from around the state were represented.  The chief of East Point, Georgia, said he knew Marriner personally. 

"I met him back in 1982.  He became like a mentor to me.  I was named police chief of a small town at the age of 26 and I used to call him all the time for advice and guidance.  I would really just watch his example.   There was never a time when I called him when he didn't take the time to talk to me, just to explain things to me and help me along," said East Point Police Chief, Woodrow Blue.

After twenty years of military service, Chief Marriner spent even more time serving the Waverly Hall police department.  He was the first African-American to the lead the department in its history. 

"That was a big leap, especially in the south.  I'm from up north and we thought that was a great thing.  In 1976 he retired from the Navy and got on with the police force and that was amazing," said his cousin, Jay Porter. 

But it wasn't always business with the chief.  His friends say he had a great sense of humor and was a good sport when it came to pranks. 

"The running joke every time he'd pull up to the fire station, he'd get out and come into the station, then someone would leave out the back and get in his car and take off with it and hide it," said Waverly Hall assistant fire chief, James Henderson.   

His daughter recalls the first time her son was born, Chief Wallace was happy to assume the role of loving grandfather. 

"He was at the hospital and he actually held her before I got to hold her.  He stood there and he was making little googley faces with her.  He held me in the other arm and held her with this arm," said his daughter, Sherry Willis, "My fondest memory that I will miss is sitting in his den playing his favorite song from the Lionel Richie album.  We were sitting there playing it all day for hours at a time.  That's what I'm going to miss the most about it."  

Chief Wallace was 76 at the time of his passing and is buried at the Waverly Hall cemetery.

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