Donalsonville officer honored 50 years after tragic deathPublished 11:51am Monday, October 14, 2013
DONALSONVILLE — Georgia State Patrol Sgt. Charles Eugene Gray was killed in an automobile accident while on duty in Calhoun County 50 years ago. Tuesday the state of Georgia Highway Patrol as well as other state officials memorialized the Donalsonville native in a way for thousands to drive by and remember his sacrifice in the line of duty. Dozens of law enforcement officers were attendance to honor one of their fallen.
The portion of Georgia Highway 91 from the Donalsonville city limits all the way to the Florida border was dedicated in Gray’s name Tuesday at a ceremony in Donalsonville. Gray’s survivors attended and were given recognition by the Georgia State Patrol Honor Guard who presented colors and played bagpipes.
“Retirees here, congratulations you made it through your round and you got your retirement,” Captain Buddy Johnson with the Georgia State Patrol said, addressing the crowd. “But after his death in 1961, Sgt. Gray did not get his retirement from the state of Georgia in a paycheck form. But today we will honor him with a sign so that everyone will remember that he is one of us.”
Later on Tuesday, the Georgia Department of Transportation had the memorial signs placed across the highway in various locations.
Those state representatives that worked to pass legislation to dedicate the highway said the process was very long.
“The dedication of a roadway is not an easy thing,” Col. Mark McDonough said. “It involves local politics, it involves a lot of time spent to ensure you are doing the right thing. And what you are doing to honor one person doesn’t dishonor another.”
Gray’s son, Joel Gray, said he could feel his father’s presence Tuesday at the memorial.
“I know he is looking down on us and smiling for having honored him in this way,” Gray said.
The state will recognize more than 11 state patrol officers in this way across the state this year. More than 20 percent of the officer that died in active duty are state patrolmen.