Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ceremony Honors the Fallen; Event Cites Police Who Died on Duty

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ceremony Honors the Fallen; Event Cites Police Who Died on Duty

Article excerpt

Byline: Mary Maraghy, County Line staff writer

Clay County's annual memorial ceremony for deceased police officers is part of personal history for Jacksonville resident Shirley Sievers.

That's because Sievers, 88, is the granddaughter of former Clay County Sheriff Josephus Peeler, who was shot and killed in 1894 while trying to settle an argument between two men.

This year's observance of National Police Week was hosted Friday by the Clay County Sheriff's Office and held beneath a tent in the parking lot at the Middleburg Operations Center.

It was a salute to the seven men who lost their lives while serving the Sheriff's Office, and to the 13 men and women called to military service since Sept. 11, 2001. Three of the 13 remain on active duty overseas; those who have returned are awaiting word on redeployment.

"This is a chance for our agency to honor them and to thank them and their family members for their sacrifice," sheriff's spokeswoman Mary Justino said.

Peeler's picture, which was on the memorial program, looked as if it came from an old Western saloon.

"My mother was his oldest child, and she vividly remembers the shooting," Sievers said. "I heard so much about him from my mother. It was important for me to be here."

Sievers was among about 50 people who attended the event, including surviving relatives, friends and uniformed representatives from the Orange Park Police Department, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, St. Augustine Police Department, Florida Highway Patrol and U.S. Marshal's Office.

Peeler was the first Clay County sheriff to be fatally shot in the line of duty. Then came Charles Wilson, who died in 1906, and Theodore Cherry, killed in 1913. Deputy Arthur Caton suffered a heart attack on duty in 1979; Deputy Wilson Walker died of complications from handling hazardous materials in 1994; Sgt. …

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