Garrison died May 22 while on duty as a deputy for the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department. He was 73.
Sheriff Terry Surles said, “Raymond could turn a bad day into a good day. He lit up the room when he walked in.”
Surles said he would be forever indebted to Garrison because he gave him his start with the Odenville Police Department.
“In late 1977, while he was the police chief of Odenville, he came to me and offered me a job with the reserves he was going to have,” Surles said. “He always told everybody that he cleaned me up and made me shave and get a haircut. He did tell me to go home and get a haircut. Ever since then, we have been close friends. I wouldn’t take anything for the memories I have of him.”
Surles keeps a photo in his shirt pocket of himself and Garrison that was taken in April 1978. Garrison is congratulating Surles from graduating from the police academy.
“We have just been close for many, many years,” Surles said. “He recently bought an old tractor, and it wasn’t running. We brought it over to my house, and we were able to spend a lot of time together there. We fiddled with that old tractor and just had the best time.
Garrison came to the Sheriff’s Department in 1981 and worked until 2002.
“He retired and stayed out about three months,” Surles said. “He called me one day and told me he wanted to come back to work. He missed it, and we just happened to have a part-time opening. We put him right back to work, and it was like he had never left.”
Surles said they looked forward to seeing Garrison come into the office every morning because he was always so cheerful and friendly.
“Even the morning he passed away,” Surles said. “I knew he didn’t feel good, and we talked about some things that were going on with him. But he was still comical and strived every day to make the other person feel better. He was just one of those people you enjoyed being around.”
Surles said he never worried about the decisions Garrison made because he knew they were always going to be good decisions.
“Most of all, Raymond was ready to go be with the Lord,” Surles said. “He was a Christian, and he would tell you that. He said we were all going to go one day, and we all need to be ready.”
Surles said Garrison loved three things in life.
“First of all, he loved his God,” Surles said. “Second, he loved his family, and then third, he loved this Sheriff’s Department just like it was his family. He told me many times we were his family, too. He loved this Sheriff’s Department. We are going to be so lost without him.”
Surles said one thing he knew Garrison would say right now is, “Quit your mourning, and get on out there and do what you’re supposed to be doing.
“And Raymond was doing what he wanted to do when he died,” Surles said. “Working with this Sheriff’s Department. He was dedicated to his job. We’re going to miss him, but we’ll move on, and the best thing we have right now are his memories. I know I’m going to miss him, and it is just a big loss.”
St. Clair County District Attorney Richard Minor said Garrison was a mainstay since he (Minor) came to the county in 1997.
“He was always upbeat and friendly,” Minor said. “He would always greet you with his trademark greeting, ‘What's up cod’, and he always made time to come by the office once or twice a week just to check in with everyone. His loss will be felt throughout the county. I think it says a lot about Raymond that his son followed in his footsteps with a career in law enforcement. Law enforcement was a way of life for Raymond and he died doing what he loved — serving the citizens of St. Clair County. Raymond will truly be missed by this office, and our prayers and condolences go out to his family and colleagues.”
Lt. Freddie Turrentine with the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department said Garrison was one of the best men he knew.
“He was always fun to be around, even the last day he worked,” Turrentine said. “They day he passed away, he was in a pleasant mood. He was cutting up and carrying on. He was the type person you liked being around. Even when he didn’t feel good, he was in a good mood. You can never replace Raymond Garrison. He will be greatly missed. It still does not seem real. Seems like we’re waiting for him to walk in just any day.”
Garrison served in the U.S. Navy and U. S. Army. He started his law enforcement career in 1967. From 1977 to 1981, he was police chief for Odenville, and then started with the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department in 1981.
He was a member at Macedonia Baptist Church.
Garrison is survived by his daughters, Tracie Michel Garrison, Kristi Garrison White, Kimberly Chyann Garrison; son, Raymond Andrew Garrison Jr.; sister, Mary Bach; brothers, Robert Garrison, James Garrison; grandchildren, Jacob Garrison, Ashley Garrison, Mykel Rosas, Melik White, Seyera Garrison, Abbie Garrison and Jakobe White.
The family received friends from 6 until 9 p.m. Thursday at First Baptist Church in Moody.
Funeral services were held Friday at 11a.m. at Moody First Baptist Church with burial at Macedonia Cemetery in Margaret.
Contact Gary Hanner at ghanneratthest.clairtimes.com.