The community continues to mourn the deaths of Ludowici Police Chief Frank McClelland and Marvin Pope.
Both men were killed last Saturday after being struck by a car driven by Daniel Hill who was attempting to elude police.
McClelland died while protecting the community he served and called home his whole life.
Police officers from across the state and family members and residents from Ludowici, Long County and the surrounding communities gathered Wednesday afternoon for the chief’s funeral service.
The First Baptist Church of Ludowici was filled to capacity yet folks still lined up along the walkways and foyer to pay their respects and honor their local hero. The large church was silent except for the words of Brother David Simmons and the Reverend Eric Rentz who shared stories about the times they shared with McClelland.
Rentz, who affectionately called McClelland “Little Frank,” said the chief would always be remembered as the calm person in the midst of chaotic moments. The man who treated everyone fairly, justly and always placed others before self.
“He was always willing to help others at any moment,” Rentz said.
He said McClelland handled even the most traumatic moments with calmness and clarity and although he paid the ultimate price, he did so doing what he loved – serving the community.
“He loved being a law enforcement officer,” Rentz said.
The Reverend acknowledged the circumstances which caused McClelland’s death, saying that while it was tragic it was also avoidable.
“There are accidents and then there are accidents…this was no accident,” he said.
Rentz urged the congregation to start a dialogue with their family and friends about the importance of respecting people of authority, especially law enforcement officers.
“We need to respect the law and law enforcement officers,” he said.
After the service hundreds of law enforcement and first responder vehicles along with a motorcycle procession and a steady stream of cars headed toward McClelland’s final resting place, Jones Creek Memorial Gardens.
The Air Force Veteran was honored with a 21 gun salute. Military helicopters flew by to pay proper homage as Taps played in the background.
Amid all his law enforcement brethren McClelland received his last call.
“Ludowici to 801…Ludowici to 801…end of watch, Saturday Sept. 15, 2018 at 20 hundred hours. Chief McClelland has served his community over 23 years and gave the ultimate sacrifice for his beloved community…801 is 10-7 (out of service)…rest easy we have it from here.”
Pope, a native of Hawkinsville served his country for 29 years in the U.S. Army. He served in the Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan, four tours of duty in the Iraq War, and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal (4th Award). He also served in Korea, Haiti, Germany and Saudi Arabia.
Stateside, his assignments included Fort Benning, Fort Jackson, S.C., Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Polk, La., and Fort Stewart. After his retirement, his favorite pastimes were riding his motorcycle and playing dominoes. He was a member of the Outcast Motorcycle Club for 33 years.
The Raymond P. Henry, Downed Biker Fund, an organization that offers financial assistance to the families of injured or fatal motorcycle accidents have made Pope’s wife of 35 years, Lilli Pope, the recipient of its fund.
Pope’s wake was yesterday. Graveside services with Full Military Honors will begin at 1 p.m. today at Pine Bloom Cemetery, 132 6th Street, Hawkinsville, GA 31036.