"Big John" Elder retires


Thursday, July 1, 2004

John Leeper

John F. Elder Jr. cast a giant shadow at the Dyersburg Police Department in more ways than one. Standing 6 feet, 4 inches tall and once weighing in at 360 pounds, he was a police officer that children in the city were naturally drawn to and a man loved and respected by his co-workers. On Tuesday, in a ceremony at the municipal courtroom building, "Big John" Elder officially ended his 14-year law enforcement career with the DPD. He has battled for over a year with cancer.

"With much regret the Lord has shown me that the time has come to step away," Elder said in his official retirement statement read by police chief Bobby Williamson Tuesday. "I told my family when I left Atlanta, Georgia, in 1983 that I was not coming back home. My family has visited our great town and now has full understanding why I chose to stay. It's with great remorse that I say this is my last day as Lieutenant John F. Elder with the Dyersburg Police Department."

Elder attended the gathering of more than 50 law enforcement officers, government officials and friends along with his wife Jowanda, his 9-year-old son, Johnny, and daughter, Jessica, age 10.

"It is a sad day for me to see one of my good men commit to retirement," said Williamson. "Big John has contributed much to this community and to this department. He has been vital in the building of police and community relations."

Williamson described Elder as "one of the kindest big men I have ever known. He never put anyone down." His gift, however, was an ability to draw children and work with them. That was the reason Williamson said he assigned Elder to the bicycle patrol.

"He really cared about kids, which is why I wanted him on bike patrol," Williamson said. "He was a certified bicycle instructor and would put on bike rodeos around the city. Big John is going to be missed." 

Elder told his friends and co-workers that his goal is to remain in the Dyersburg area and continue working to improve the community.

 

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