Jarrell awarded Order of the Long Leaf Pine

Jarrell had ‘most important law enforcement career in the history of Richmond County’

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — Sam Jarrell was, in short, a man’s man. He wasn’t perfect, but he treated those with which he came into contact with dignity and respect.

And when he failed to do that — if he failed to do that — the retired Richmond County Sheriff’s Office major with 34 years’ experience in law enforcement prayed to God to seek forgiveness.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Sam Jarrell, a retired major with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, was honored Wednesday with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina's highest civilian award for public service.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Sam Jarrell, a retired major with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, was honored Wednesday with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian award for public service.

On Wednesday, Jarrell was honored with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian award for public service. The ceremony took place in the jury assembly room on the third floor of the Richmond County Judicial Center in downtown Rockingham. More than 70 people attended the 15-minute ceremony, including former Hamlet Police Chief Terry Moore and Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr.

Jarrell wore a dark gray suit that hung loosely on his tall, cancer-riddled frame. He accepted the award with modest and grace.

“I’m really surprised to receive this award,” said Jarrell, who began his law enforcement career in 1968. “So many people, and some in this very room, that deserve it more than I do. I thank you.”

Jarrell talked about rededicating his life to his faith and in God in recent years. He was, as always, candid.

“During my lifetime, I have failed many of you,” he said from the podium to a crowded room of supporters, including his wife of 48 years, Diane. “I’ve been a Christian for many, many years. Only by the good grace of God, not by anything I’ve ever done … because he loves me. I failed my Lord and Savior when I did not demonstrate that I was a child of God. I ask each of you to forgive me.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Sam Jarrell, left, is congratulated by state Rep. Ken Goodman after Jarrell was honored as a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Sam Jarrell, left, is congratulated by state Rep. Ken Goodman after Jarrell was honored as a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Clemmons said Jarrell anything for which he should apologize was “washed away” when he put his faith as his top priority. Clemmons challenged his deputies “to live that legacy” of honor and integrity as Jarrell has.

Moore read the citation, framed and given to Jarrell.

“If there’s anybody in the county that deserves it,” Moore said, it’s Jarrell.

Moore said that Jarrell began his career in law enforcement with the Rockingham Police Department and the Ellerbe Police Department. He was, Moore said, effectively the first criminal investigator in Richmond County who helped set the standard in fingerprint processing and the photographing of suspects in the county and across the state.

And he never dodged a difficult case, Moore said. Not in October 1997, when five migrant workers were found shot to death in Mangum, on the outskirts of Richmond County.

Moore said catching the bad guys and protecting the public was of the utmost importance to Jarrell, who often paid criminal informants out of his own pocket.

“He did so willingly,” Moore said, “to reduce crimes.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Sam Jarrell, left, with Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Sam Jarrell, left, with Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr.

And with the son of former Richmond County Sheriff R.W. Goodman, state Rep. Ken Goodman, in the room, Moore said Jarrell might have lived the “most important law enforcement career in the history of Richmond County.”

Though his father served as sheriff for 44 years, Ken Goodman didn’t dispute the notion.

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety

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  • Randy Benton

    I want to congratulate Sam on receiving this award. Sam is a product of a large and hardworking family with roots extending back into Richmond Counties Textile history. Sam’s father worked in the local textile mills during the week and ran the mill store on the weekends to make extra money for the family. After graduation, he entered the US Air Force and served 4 years being honorably discharged.

    Sam and and his large family of brothers and sisters are a close knit family who always help each other whenever the situation requires. Teachers, retired military, law enforcement, (to name a few) all are successful members of our community.

    Raised by loving and caring parents they were instilled with a rare awareness of personal values and thoughtfulness for other people. It was Sam and his brother, Roger, that first invited me to go Relic Hunting with them back in 1982 when I had just graduated from High School. I have many great memories of our hot and sweatty days out digging relics, coins, and all sorts of “old” stuff.

    So, I want to thank you for your friendship and kindness. You are a really good person and a great role model for your family and friends. You truly deserve this award, but in still comes up short in representing the good person you are:-)

    Randy Benton

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