Photo of Sheriff Ison Thomas unveiled

Pictured L-R back row Deputy Melvin Smith and Deputy Curtis Rice; front row Deputy Jeremy Rancher, Mrs. Dorothy Thomas and Chief Deputy Jimmy Benison

A photograph of the late Ison Thomas, Greene County Sheriff, was unveiled at a ceremony Sunday at the William M. Branch County Courthouse. The photo will be hung in the Sheriff’s office at the Courthouse.
Thomas died of cancer in April 2010 while in office and was beloved and respected by residents of Greene County for his fairness and devotion to law enforcement.

At the program, attended by his wife and family as well as many current and former sheriff’s deputies and county officials,  the speakers saluted his life and service.

Chief Deputy Jimmy Benison served as master of ceremonies. The colors were presented by American Legion Post 2007 which included many who served with Thomas in the first Gulf War.

Jonathan Lewis spoke for the Junior Deputies program.

Rev. Thomas Gilmore, Greene County’s first African-American sheriff memorialized Ison Thomas and said, “He distinguished his office.” Gilmore pointed out that Thomas was so dedicated to law enforcement that he served as a deputy, under Gilmore, for his first six months without pay. Gilmore also mentioned that he was elected sheriff by a write-in vote which was very difficult to accomplish.

Lester Brown, school board member and close friend of Thomas, also spoke about the former sheriff’s record of service. Brown said that several groups were working on a scholarship program in law enforcement studies to be offered to a Greene County student on an annual basis in memory of Thomas.

Nick Underwood, Chair of the County Commission, read a resolution honoring Thomas passed by the Greene County Commission.

The photo was unveiled by a group of Greene County deputies. Dorothy Thomas, widow of the sheriff, thanked the group and said that, “Ison’s dream was always to be sheriff and he fulfilled his dream.”

Gilmore in his comments said that Greene County had the largest number of African-American sheriffs in the nation. Since 1969, the following persons have held the position: Gilmore, James Flanigan, George Hall, Johnny L Isaac, Ison Thomas, Ronald Kent Smith, George Cook and Sheriff-elect Jonathan Benison.


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