Former Bradley County Chief Deputy Wayne Bird was laid to rest Monday in Howey-in-the-Hills Cemetery in Lake County, Fla.
A private memorial service was held prior to the burial, according to Doug Bird, his brother.
The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office is planning a small memorial service locally. According to Sheriff Jim Ruth, the service will be held at 4 p.m. Friday.
Bird died Friday morning at the home of one of his three children.
According to officials, Bird’s wife, Colleen, daughter and sons were present along with other family members.
Bird served as chief deputy since Ruth was elected in 2010. He began his law enforcement career in Orange County, Fla., when he was 21 years old and rose through the ranks, eventually becoming a commander in the department, then chief of detectives.
Bird worked closely with federal investigators when called upon, and provided undercover work for Bradley County and other agencies during his career. He attended and worked at Lee College in the late 1970s and obtained his master’s degree in Christian Ministries.
Bird took a medical leave from the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office just a few weeks ago after visiting a doctor due to pain in his back.
According to his brother, he thought he had strained a muscle in his back.
Bird was 71 years old and very active, continually watching his health and performing daily exercise and cardio workouts.
Bird learned he was suffering from melanoma and treatment options were available, but according to Doug Bird, further testing revealed potential treatments could not help him.
Bird was placed on medical leave March 14, and traveled to Florida immediately afterward to be with his family. He was also placed under hospice care shortly after his arrival in Florida.
On Monday, Ruth, Capt. David Shoemaker, Capt. W.G. Campbell and Capt. John Stone attended the funeral service in Florida.
They returned home late Monday evening.
Bird was survived by his wife; daughter, Tisha Johnson; sons, Sterling and Richard Bird; and several grandchildren and local family members.
Bird was an active member of Cross Pointe Church, where he helped serve meals to the community each week.
Pastor Oliver McMahan is scheduled to speak during Friday’s memorial service.
Family, friends and law enforcement officials are expected to attend. The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard will present the family with a U.S. flag during the memorial service.
The family asks memorials be made to the Russell Home for Atypical Children, 1480 Michigan St., Orlando FL 32806.