Atmore officer laid to rest
By By Adam Prestridge
A United States Army honor guardsman played a somber rendition of "Taps" as colleagues of Atmore Police Department Lt. Charles Ellaird saluted his flag-draped coffin as they bid their final farewell Thursday at Fairview Cemetery.
It was clear an officer was being laid to rest from the number of law enforcement officers in attendance, as well as, several other public servants. Two additional honor guardsmen slowly folded the U.S. flag and presented it to Ellaird's daughter, Shauna, as all three saluted her as a sign of gratitude for her father's service in the U.S. Army.
"I thought the service went real well," Atmore public safety director Glenn Carlee, who worked with Ellaird for several years, said. "It was an appropriate tribute to a seasoned officer that dedicated most of his adult life to this community. The department was proud to have him on staff. He was a valuable asset to this department. He will be sincerely missed, not only personally, but for his professional contributions."
Ellaird, who served the Atmore Police Department for 22 years in several capacities, was found dead in his front yard on June 7. Although his cause of death wasn't immediately known, city officials announced Monday that he had passed away from congestive heart failure. He was 56.
Prior to Ellaird's burial, more than a hundred family members, co-workers and friends were in attendance during a funeral service held at Deliverance Ministry of Jesus Christ to celebrate his life as police and fire units lined the streets outside the church. Following the funeral service, an eight-minute procession involving police cars from Atmore; Flomaton; Brewton; Bay Minette; the Escambia County, Ala. Sheriff's Office; the Escambia County, Fla. Sheriff's Office; Pensacola, Fla. and the Alabama Department of Corrections, as well as, the Atmore Fire &Rescue Department snaked down Hwy. 31 to Carver Avenue as it made its way to the cemetery.
"I think we had a good turn out," Carlee said. "We had more than 100 law enforcement officers present. We had countywide participation as well as participation from Pensacola, the Escambia County Sheriff's department in Florida and several state agencies. We appreciate the large turnout."
Ellaird was described by several of his co-workers as a dedicated officer that loved to fish and hunt. Fellow investigator, Chuck Brooks, said Ellaird's loss leaves a void in the department.
"He cared about his cases and he would always help me out if I needed it," Brooks said last week. "He was well known in the community. We talked about our cases together and we talked about fishing all the time. He was a fisherman. He loved to hunt and especially fish. I am still in disbelief that he is gone. I worked with him all day Tuesday (June 6) and everything was fine. It is just such a shock."
Also on hand were several Atmore city officials including Mayor Howard Shell, who said Ellaird's death was a shock to the city as a whole.
"His death has certainly come as a shock to the entire department and the people associated with him," Shell said. "Lt. Ellaird was an inspiration to all of us for his dedication and many hours of service he put in for the city of Atmore.