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Remembering a friend

The death of a friend always is a tough thing to handle for me.

Like is the case when any of my friends die, I realize it's the ending of our friendship - a time when we both shared so many things about our lives.

After the death of a friend, all I have are the memories of that person.

Such is the case of Jerome Jackson - a friend of mine for more than 25 years.

Jerome was a deputy with the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department. He passed away, unexpectedly, on June 15, from what authorities say was a heart attack.

It's hard for me to believe, like is the case for so many of his other friends, especially those who worked with him at the sheriff's department and through the local 911 emergency dispatch center. Many of them still are taking it rough. And I feel deeply for each of them.

Jerome was only 52 and loved serving the public as a law enforcement officer. It was his calling - a man who loved going to work and protecting the people of McDuffie County - both day and night, depending on the shift he worked.

I met Jerome one night on Broad Street in Augusta. He was working as a beat officer with the Augusta Police Department, while I was a staff reporter, covering the police beat, for The Augusta Chronicle.

Immediately, we just seemed to hit it off and developed a lasting friendship from that moment on.

If Jerome ever said he was your friend, you could count on it. He was there for his friends or family whenever and wherever they needed him.

Take the last day of his life, for example.

Jerome had made plans after work to travel from his residence in Warrenton to Milledgeville to mechanically work on a cousin's automobile. He did that sort of thing to help when the need arose.

That was just like the Jerome Jackson I knew - always willing to help someone - anyone.

He was the kind of friend that anyone would be proud to call their friend.

Jerome loved being funny, too. He told some of the best jokes I've ever heard. And in sharing such laughable moments, he always had this great big smile that seemed to light up the whole world. It was a great smile!

He was the kind of person who loved life. And he demonstrated it by the way he lived his life and what he did to make a difference in our society by keeping law and order.

I will forever miss my friend Jerome Jackson, who many of us knew as "Skint."

Web posted on Thursday, June 28, 2007

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