Westover Memorial Park was crowded Tuesday morning with lawyers, judges, law enforcement officers, legislators and an array of other officials who went to say goodbye to former Richmond County Sheriff Charles B. Webster.
Though attended by the area’s political elite, the funeral had little pomp or ceremony. Webster, who died Saturday at 80, was buried after a brief graveside service officiated by his former pastor, the Rev. Jerry Wilson.
After a few remarks, prayers and a hymn sung a cappella by Ron Gibbs, Webster was laid to rest beside his wife, Frances, who died in 2010.
“It was not a long service, and he never wanted one,” said his successor and long-time friend, Sheriff Ronnie Strength, who presided over the one bit of ceremony at the end, presenting a U.S. flag draping the coffin to Webster’s 86-year-old sister, Grace Sonnenschein.
Strength said Webster would not have wanted long speeches or grand gestures in his honor, but he would have been glad to see all those who turned out to pay their respects.
“He knew all of them,” Strength said. “That was a great tribute and a great farewell to him.”
One of the honorary pallbearers, Superior Court Judge Daniel Craig, said the funeral was indicative of the kind of man he knew Webster to be.
“It was the perfect reflection of the life of Charlie Webster,” Craig said. “He led a simple life, but he demonstrated the blessings of a simple life and set an example for others to follow.”
Webster, who served as sheriff from 1984 to 2000, maintained an active interest in Augusta politics to the end, campaigning for his friend Freddie Sanders, who ultimately lost to Richard Roundtree in the race to become the next sheriff.
Craig said that although Webster often said he was more of a politician than a lawman, he didn’t agree. He said Webster had a number of qualities – such as patience, discernment and wisdom – that served him well in the role as the county’s chief law enforcement officer.
“He was the shining example of an excellent officer of the law,” Craig said.