May 16, 2021

Georgia’s oldest State Trooper retiree dies at age 94

(Franklin, GA) — The oldest surviving member of the Georgia State Patrol passed away Saturday evening at the age of 94.

Retired Sgt. James Franklin Terrell, Jr. (a.k.a. Jeff) would have turned 95 next month.

The Heard County native was beloved by current State Troopers who had visited with him often at his Carrollton nursing home during his declining years.

Retired Sgt. James Franklin Terrell, Jr. enjoyed his ‘last ride’ in a Georgia State Patrol car in 2017

In fact, the young State Troopers took him for his ‘last ride’ in a new patrol car in 2017.

Although retired, Terrell was still considered a hero by many in law enforcement following his huge sacrifice in the line of duty in 1969.

Trooper Terrell was shot at point-blank range near Noble, GA (just outside of Lafayette) on Valentine’s Day in 1969 by a double barrel shot-gun after spotting the vehicle of a couple of wanted felons.

He was transported to Erlanger Hospital that day for emergency life-saving surgery.

Terrell’s son, Stuart was only in kindergarten at the time of his dad’s shooting but still remembers much of what happened.

According to an interview with Stuart by the Heard Citizen in 2017, the first words uttered by his father when he awoke from surgery were “Where’s my shirt?”

Jeff Terrell asked for the blood stained and ripped shirt to be displayed in his hospital room as motivation to not only get better but to get back to the job he loved — being a state patrolman.

Due to the damage from the shooting, Terrell was unable to return to active trooper duty and instead was promoted to Corporal where he was placed in charge of the Motor vehicle Inspections Division for Northwest Georgia. He was then promoted to Sergeant before taking medical retirement in 1972.

One of Sgt. Terrell’s most memorable days on the force came in the 1960’s when he was tasked with guarding Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. after he was taken into protective custody in Albany, GA during a civil rights march.

Mr. Terrell was born the son of a preacher and the youngest of eight children in 1924 in Heard County.

Stay tuned to for funeral arrangements as soon as they become available.


  1. Mark Sims says

    True hero!

  2. virgil lee brown says

    Thank you for a life well lived

  3. John Mcdonald says

    God bless you sir thank you for your service and protection of the community

  4. Rest in peace sir.

  5. Rick Redd says

    Thank you for your service and sacrifice, hero’s live forever !

  6. His family has our deepest smypathy

  7. David Willis says

    Best of the Old School!!!! RIP SGT!!!!!!!! THANK YOU SIR FOR YOUR SERVICE AND SACRIFICE!!!!!!!

  8. Darrell Elder says

    Thank you for your service. Now step forward Trooper and take your place among the heroes.

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