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A lawmans final farewell
Former Hall County sheriff laid to rest
The Hall County Sheriff’s honor guard walks with the caisson carrying Ed England’s flag-draped coffin during his funeral at Memorial Park Funeral Home on Friday afternoon. England was Hall County sheriff for 12 years. - photo by Robin Michener Nathan
GAINESVILLE — With her right hand on her father’s flag-draped casket, Michelle Thrasher started singing what she said was her daddy’s favorite song.

Thrasher, daughter of former Hall County Sheriff Edward "Ed" Lee England, never faltered as she sang, without music, "How Great Thou Art."

When she finished singing, Thrasher blew a kiss to the sky and waved goodbye.

The song was the beginning of the final farewell to a 30-year veteran of Hall County law enforcement.

England, 86, died earlier this week after a brief battle with cancer. England served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and as sheriff of Hall County for 12 years, eight of which were consecutive.

Fellow law enforcement officers, family members and friends of England gathered in the chapel of the Memorial Park Funeral home to honor the former sheriff who they buried with full law enforcement honors.

The Rev. David Matthews, one of the men who officiated England’s service, said England dedicated his life to serving his God, his family and his community, calling him a part of the greatest generation and the salt of the earth.

England, a tall man in stature, could be considered a great man, whether he was measured by a ruler, by his accomplishments, by his family or by his faith, Matthews said.

"By all of these standards, Ed would measure up (as a man)," Matthews said.

The Rev. Robbie Foster, chaplain for the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, said he first met England in the sixth grade when England came to his elementary school and named him and his classmates "junior deputies," asking the children to do the very thing England dedicated his life to.

As he deputized them more than 30 years ago, England told the schoolchildren to think about the contribution they were going to make to society, Foster said.

"‘I’m asking you to be good citizens of Hall County,’" Foster said England told him and his classmates back in 1976.

England was a man who was known for his faith, his family and his love for fishing, Foster said.

Foster told those at the funeral that England’s example would live on throughout generations in Hall County.

"He made an impact on people," Foster said. "People, in turn, made an impact back. That citizenship will echo into eternity."

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