Lowndes County prepares to say goodbye to beloved sheriff

Lowndes County prepares to say goodbye to beloved sheriff

LOWNDES COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - “Big John” Williams’ final resting place will be a country cemetery not far from Hayneville. The sheriff was shot to death nearly a week ago. Authorities arrested an 18-year old suspect.

“Someone who was a servant to everybody," said childhood friend Karl Bell.

Bell never thought it’d come down to this for him. He is the owner of Bell Funeral Home, and the very man who finds himself preparing Williams’ body for burial.

“I didn’t cry at the time," he said.

Williams and Bell were beyond close.

“Pretty much like a brother to me and my wife. It was really difficult," said Bell.

“Big John” Williams was every bit of 6-foot-4, hence the name “Big John.” Four hickory sticks mark the grave measuring 7-feet in length. Grave diggers will soon begin their work, making room to welcome “Big John” home in peace for all eternity.

McQueen Cemetery is low key, much like the way “Big John” was in life: unassuming, humbled, and according to one cousin, he would be embarrassed by all this attention.

“You all ain’t gotta do all that for me," said relative A.L. Johnson.

We found Johnson and his team mowing the grass, giving McQueen Cemetery off Highway 21 near Hayneville a polished look. After all, this isn’t just another funeral to get ready for. It’s for someone Johnson feels deserves the highest of all salutes.

“I just want to make sure everything is neat and right for our lost one,” said Johnson.

The shock of losing a beloved sheriff in the way he died has settled in for good in these parts. In the words of A.L. Johnson, “We have no other choice.”

“Big John” Williams is coming home in the quiet countryside of Lowndes County. His funeral will be held Monday.

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