WARRENTON, Ga. --- She's come a long, long way.
That's what some of her former colleagues, friends and family remember most about Patricia Kendrick-Walker.
Two decades ago, she couldn't drive a car and didn't know one end of a gun from the other. Yet, she wanted to become a police officer.
Officials with the City of Warrenton, supported by the recommendation of former Police Chief Allen Johnson, took a chance and hired her. Two of the factors for her being hired were her character and the fact that police were in need of a female officer.
She ended up not only being hired, but learned how to drive, learned self-defense moves and learned how to shoot a gun while attending the CSRA Law Enforcement Academy in Augusta.
Once she became a police officer, she never stopped learning and later became a certified instructor -- a position she still holds today.
Officer Walker officially retired from the Warrenton Police Department on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2009, after serving for 20 years as a person who protected and served the residents of Warrenton. The night before her retirement, Officer Walker was saluted with a retirement gala at the Warren County Community Service Building in Warrenton. More than 230 people -- many connected with local and state law enforcement agencies -- attended.
Officer Walker has now taken on a new role. She has accepted the position as director of the 911 Warren County Emergency Center. As senior officer with the Warrenton Police Department, she already was heavily involved with the county emergency's communication's system.
"She's brought our 911 center a long, long way," Warren County Commission Chairman John Graham told those gathered at the retirement gala. "I'd put ours up against any other in the state."
Mr. Graham said when Officer Walker was on duty as a police officer, "We knew we were all in safe hands. We could all be better people in our community, if we were like her."
Warrenton Mayor Tony Mimbs said he was elected to city council about the time Officer Walker was starting her law enforcement career.
The mayor said Officer Walker would have been in line to have become a candidate for police chief had she decided to stay with the city.
"I believe the City of Warrenton is going to be just a little less without Patricia," Mr. Mimbs said.
One of Officer Walker's sisters, Dorothy Boatwright, said, "I am just so glad she could retire. We're very proud of her."
Ms. Boatwright said she and other family members, including her late mother, had prayed for Officer Walker's safety on many occasions.
"I thank God for protecting her on her journey," she said.
Gwendolyn Tucker, a member of the Warren County Board of Education, said, "From your church family, Patricia, we say, congratulations."
Warrenton Police Chief Jim McClain said he and his officers would "greatly miss" Officer Walker.
"She's a wonderful person and a fine police officer," Chief McClain said.
William Doupe', senior assistant district attorney for the Toombs Judicial Circuit, read a letter from District Attorney Dennis Sanders which expressed thanks for the long standing working relationship and friendship between Officer Walker and his office.
Mr. Sanders said Officer Walker's straight-forward insight had been invaluable to his office.
Mr. Doupe' said he had enjoyed working with Officer Walker since 1998.
"Everyone, including Woody Davis, our chief assistant district attorney, hold you in the highest regard," Mr. Doupe' said.
Warren County Sheriff Joe Peebles, meanwhile, read a letter from retired Superior Court Judge Purnell Davis, who lives in Warrenton.
Judge Davis said Officer Walker had served the city with honor, dignity and character.
He also said she had made her profession proud of her and that he was proud to call her a friend.
"She is a winner in every aspect of the word, winner," Sheriff Peebles said.
McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall said the City of Warrenton "could not have had a finer lady and police officer than Patricia Kendrick-Walker."
Sheriff Marshall also commended Officer Walker for her "great" service to deputies of the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department needing certification training.
"She has gone out of her way a number of times to help us and I really appreciate it," Sheriff Marshall said.
Wrens Police Chief David Hannah thanked Officer Walker, too.
"She is a great police officer," Chief Hannah said. "She did it all with the great help from the man above."
Gary Nicholson, special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region 7 Office in Thomson, said Officer Walker is "someone you could trust and depend on."
He added that he was proud to call her his friend.
Deputy Jackie Graves Sr. of the Wilkes County Sheriff's Department, was Officer Walker's former partner when she first started with the Warrenton Police Department.
"Patricia started at the very bottom," Mr. Graves said.
Two other longtime friends, Teddy Jackson, a retired GBI agent, now working as an investigator with the Louisville Police Department and Deputy Michael Lynn of the Warren County Sheriff's Department, also expressed comments. "She was always someone to lean on," Mr. Jackson said, noting that he leaned on Officer Walker a lot when his late mother got sick.
Deputy Lynn said Officer Walker had been his friend for a long time and forever would remain so.
Gary Nicholson, special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region 7 Office, praised Officer Kendrick-Walker's dedication and loyalty.[CAPTION]
McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall spoke highly of Officer Kendrick-Walker's character during her retirement gala on Dec. 30.[CAPTION]
Warrenton Mayor Tony Mimbs prepares to hug Officer Kendrick-Walker during her retirement gala.[CAPTION]