Hundreds mourn passing of Wayne County sheriff
Posted January 31
Mount Olive, N.C. — Hundreds of mourners filed into an arena at Mount Olive College on Friday to bid farewell to a beloved sheriff remembered for his larger-than-life presence in the community.
Wayne County Sheriff Carey A. Winders died Jan. 24 after suffering a heart attack at home while he was getting ready to go to work at the job he had held since 1994.
"(He was) an example of what a sheriff should be, but also a best friend," said Richard Glosson, who officiated the funeral. "His door was always open, not just to his employees but to all of Wayne County."
Gov. Pat McCrory was among the crowd of about 800 mourners who came to pay their respects. Law enforcement officers from across the state, sharply dressed in their formal uniforms, also filled the seats.
Winders' casket was draped in an American flag, and his broad-brimmed service hat rested on a pedestal in front. A recording of Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" played throughout Kornegay Arena.
"His legacy will live on forever," Glosson said. "His name will always be a part of Wayne County. The shoes that have to be filled, those are big boots. And that hat won't fit just anybody."
Winders was born in Wayne County and graduated from Charles B. Aycock High School in 1975. He left behind a wife, Teresa Sullivan, whom he married in 1981, three daughters and two granddaughters.
He started his law enforcement career as a patrol officer with the Goldsboro Police Department in 1984 and worked his way up to investigations. In 1993, he announced his candidacy for sheriff with the goal of modernizing the agency.
Maj. Tom Effler, who has worked at the sheriff's office for 31 years, said last week that Winders was someone he could easily talk to, even if they didn't agree.
"He took his job seriously," Effler said. "He looked after his personnel, and he looked after his county."
He said Winders was a presence in the sheriff's office.
"We knew when he was in our building. I mean, he'd come in with his cowboy boots, and he'd be walking down the hall slapping all the time," Effler said.
From Mount Olive to Parkstown, Winders relished being out in the community and rarely turned down an invitation to a fundraiser or event. He was very active at his church, Union Grove Free Will Baptist Church.
"We used to tell him, 'You need to cut back on this stuff,'" Effler said. "But you couldn't tell him that. He went to everything."
Maj. Fane Greenfield will serve as interim sheriff until county commissioners can appoint a permanent replacement to fulfill the remainder of Winders' term.
Greenfield also spoke at the funeral service, recalling his boss as a benevolent leader who worked hard to bring grants to the department so his officers could have the best equipment.
He said Winders had a "heart of gold" and agonized over the idea of firing anyone.
"The first thing he'd tell you is, 'What about their families,' and it would hurt him so bad," Greenfield said.