DOBSON — It’s decades overdue, but a memorial now stands at the Surry County Sheriff’s Office to honor the county’s only deputy who gave his life in the line of duty.
Though the memorial has been at the office for months, it wasn’t until Tuesday that an official dedication ceremony was held.
Chet Jessup, a retired law officer who has become the authority on fallen officers in Surry and Yadkin counties, recounted how James “Jimmy” Billups Trevathan died in the line of duty.
The deputy, who had joined the force in December 1962, responded to a hit-and-run in the Flat Rock community on June 3, 1963. He attempted to stop the suspect vehicle, which led to a pursuit. When the vehicle stopped on Lovers Lane, the suspect shot Trevathan.
The deputy was hit twice. However, he still managed to fire a shot which paralyzed the suspect. According to Jessup, Travathan succumbed to his wounds shortly before midnight that evening.
He was 38 years old, and the deputy left behind three children.
Susan Trevathan Sexton and James Michael Trevathan were present at Tuesday’s dedication. Their brother, Tony Trevathan, was unable to attend.
Sheriff Graham Atkinson said there have been attempts throughout the decades to memorialize Trevathan, but for one reason or another, none of those attempts came to fruition.
“More than 50 years later, a Boy Scout comes along and says, ‘I’m going to make this happen,’” Atkinson told the crowd which had gathered. “He didn’t know the deputy, his family or the story.”
However, Atkinson said Matthew Waddell, who is now a freshman at Appalachian State University, has a strong belief in public service.
Waddell’s father is the assistant emergency services director in Surry County.
Waddell completed the memorial as his Eagle Scout project. Atkinson said the young man raised money, handled the logistics associated with the project and even secured the go-ahead to carry out his plans from the Surry County Board of Commissioners.
He held a barbecue fundraiser to garner funds for the project, and he secured a donation from Sandy Shelton, the daughter of Hudson Graham, who was sheriff at the time of Trevathan’s death. He also worked with Wholesale Monuments to get the granite monument completed and in place in front of the office.
“I wanted to do something that would survive long after my time on earth is over,” Waddell told the crowd.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” reads the Bible verse on the monument, which also gives a brief account of the deputy’s career and death.
Atkinson said Trevathan is the only Surry County Sheriff’s Deputy for which his office has an absolute record of giving his life in the line of duty.
“We are proud to honor our fallen hero,” said Atkinson.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.