Community members remember the life, legacy of Phenix City assistant police chief

Community members remember the life, legacy of Phenix City assistant police chief

PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WTVM) - East Alabama is grieving the loss of a community leader.

Phenix City Assistant Police Chief Gail Green-Gilliam lost her battle with COVID-19 Wednesday night.

Green-Gilliam spent 33 years serving the Phenix City community, earning the title of the first woman to ever hold the assistant chief position in 2015.

Rainfall Thursday is a perfect reflection for how many in the community are feeling after the death of Green-Gilliam. Somber.

“Gail was a great person and I’m really going to miss her,” said Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor.

The 56-year-old was the first woman to earn the title of assistant chief at the Phenix City Police Department. Flags fly at half staff Thursday in her honor.

“For her, it was always about the job, never about herself and always about serving others,” Stephen Paquette said.

“Vibrant, tenacity, brilliant, just that person you could go to and have a talk with. That’s how down to earth she was,” said Joyce Dent-Fitzpatrick with the Columbus Police Department.

Dent-Fitzpatrick enjoyed a friendship with Green-Gilliam for many years. She said a card still sits on her desk from when she heard her friend was in the hospital, but she was never able to bring it to her because of visiting restrictions.

“Just very impressive that unsung hero,” Dent-Fitzpatrick said.

“She was the epitome of the word true servant leader,” said Russell County Coroner Arthur Sumbry Jr.

In addition to her role at the police department, Green-Gilliam was a mother of two and fostered children and adults with special needs. Stephen Paquette said he had the privilege of working with the assistant chief back when she was a sergeant, and his wife actually taught her daughter.

“She wished all parents would be like Gail Green because she’s very involved in her child’s life, very involved in her child’s education. She wished she had more parents like Gail Green,” Paquette said.

Although Chief Ray Smith isn’t ready to go on camera so soon after Green-Gilliam’s death, he sent an email statement to News Leader 9 saying, “Gail was my partner and personal friend for more than 30 years and has been my closest advisor and supporter throughout my career. She will be dearly missed.”

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