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'She was as good as gold': Hall road named to honor officer who died during 1998 tornado
08112022 Officer 1
On Monday, Aug. 8, family, friends and colleagues gathered to remember Bobbie Hoenie in a ceremony to rename a portion of Ga. 53 from the Hall/Forsyth County line to Little Hall Road as the Officer Bobbie S. Hoenie Memorial Highway. Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson presents a framed display to Hoenie’s mother, Louise Gordon. - photo by Julia Fechter

Dawson County officer Bobbie Hoenie had just finished her shift at the jail on March 20, 1998, when a tornado touched down in northern Hall County. 

On her way to a part-time job as a 911 dispatcher, she stopped to help a driver who had run into a ditch on Ga. 53 before attempting to clear the road of fallen debris. 

Minutes later, she was struck and killed by another vehicle. 

On Monday,  Aug. 8, family, friends and colleagues gathered to remember her in a ceremony to rename a portion of Ga. 53 from the Hall/Forsyth County line to Little Hall Road as the Officer Bobbie S. Hoenie Memorial Highway. 

Bobbie Hoenie
Bobbie Hoenie

The Georgia Department of Transportation has installed signs near that county line and across from the entrance to Little Hall Park.  

 “This means the world to us. Thank you so much,” said Hoenie’s mother, Louise Gordon.  

 “It meant a whole lot that they’re still honoring her memory,” added one of Hoenie’s daughters, Jessica Jones.  

Hoenie was the first of 13 people who died in the tornado. She had only been with the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office for three months, Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson said.  

Colleagues of Hoenie’s as well as fellow officers from DCSO, the Gainesville Police Department and the Hall County Sheriff’s Office attended the roadway dedication ceremony. 

“When it comes time to help someone in need, there is no boundary,” said retired GPD and DCSO Capt. Chad White. “There's no city limits. There’s no county line, and that’s exactly what happened here 24 years ago, on March 20, 1998, when Bobbie fulfilled her oath.”  

State representative Lee Hawkins, who sponsored the road renaming resolution along with three others, also attended. 

 “It’s not often enough we remember law enforcement,” Hawkins said. “Over time, I think it’s become a much more important thing to remember the people that protect us [with] things that are done everyday out of the kindness of their hearts.”  

Hoenie has also been added to the list of names on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. as well as the Officer Down Memorial Page. 

Officer Steven Swofford, who relieved Hoenie of her DCSO job so she could commute to Hall County the morning of the tornado, was at the remembrance event.  

Swofford described Hoenie as “just a down-to-earth, good person.” 

“She’d give you the shirt off of her back if you needed it,” he said. “She was good as gold.” 

This story was originally published by the Dawson County News, a sister publication of The Times.

08112022 Officer
On Monday, Aug. 8, family, friends and colleagues gathered to remember Bobbie Hoenie in a ceremony to rename a portion of Ga. 53 from the Hall/Forsyth County line to Little Hall Road as the Officer Bobbie S. Hoenie Memorial Highway. - photo by Julia Fechter