When Sheriff Ronnie Strength and others from the Richmond County Sheriff's Office attend the funeral of Billie Hull Kirkland today, their emotions will be similar to those felt for a family member, he said.
"She was a great person. She was always upbeat, kept a smile on her face and always came to work -- and early," Sheriff Strength said about the woman who worked as a secretary for the Sheriff's Office's Narcotics Division.
Mrs. Kirkland died Tuesday at University Hospital. She was 47.
Her longtime supervisor, Capt. Leonard Hart of the Narcotics Division, said it was typical for Mrs. Kirkland to arrive at work 90 minutes early.
"And that was unpaid time," he said. "By the time everyone else arrived at 8:30 a.m., she had everything in place," he said.
Capt. Hart said he hired her when they worked for the Augusta Police Department and she continued working for him after city and county governments consolidated in 1996. She worked for the city and county for 18 years, Capt. Hart said.
"You really can't define what she did. She kept a group of guys on level, solid ground and provided us a perspective that we didn't have," said Narcotics Division Sgt. Allan Rollins.
Mrs. Kirkland was a native of Rayle, Ga., and earned a bachelor of arts degree from Paine College.
Sheriff Strength said her common sense was just as vital as her formal education.
"She played a very important role with us. She was part of our family," the sheriff said.
Mrs. Kirkland is survived by her husband, Atys Kirkland; a son, Audre Kirkland; three brothers and a host of other relatives and friends.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. at Paine College's Gilbert Lambuth Chapel with the Rev. Nathaniel Carswell officiating.
Burial will be at Mount Olive Memorial Gardens.
Active pallbearers will be members of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Division.
Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or firstname.lastname@example.org.