Historic Oath

Published 10:10 am Thursday, October 6, 2016

GATESVILLE – He tried to downplay all the hoopla surrounding his becoming the first minority to hold the position of Sheriff in Gates County, but there is no denying the fact that Randy Hathaway is proud to wear that badge.

In front of an audience of all races gathered here Friday morning in the courtroom of the Gates County Courthouse, Hathaway stood perfectly still as his wife, Wanda, pinned the Sheriff’s badge onto his crisp, white uniform shirt followed by District Court Judge Eula E. Reid administering the oath of office while his children, Rashaun and Makayla, held the Bible.

“First and foremost I want to thank and give honor and praise to my lord and savior, Jesus Christ, for this opportunity, one that I do not take lightly,” said Hathaway, after embracing his family following the oath of office.

“People say this is history in the making, but history has already been made here in our county,” Hathaway added. “I’m just carrying on history. I look forward to serving the citizens of Gates County and leading this wonderful staff of law enforcement officers and office staff.”

The new Sheriff stressed he would not be in this position today without the guidance of his retiring boss.

“To my Sheriff, Ed Webb, we’ve been through it all….high water, low water, valleys, mountains, peaks; it doesn’t matter as we’ve been through it together,” Hathaway remarked. “I have enjoyed serving with you for 17 years for the citizens of this county that both you and I have called home for all our lives. Thank you for your service to our county; I promise to continue to do a job that will compare to your love and dedication for Gates County.”

In his last official act as Gates County’s four-term Sheriff, Ed Webb, who announced his retirement on Aug. 15, was chocked full of emotion as he addressed the audience before formally turning the reins over to Hathaway.

“I want to thank the citizens of Gates County,” pausing briefly to collect himself as he fought back the tears. “For 18 and one-half years I have worked for this county; I’ve given it everything I had.

“Standing with me here this morning is the finest group of officers in the state,” Webb continued, motioning to the group of Gates County deputies standing at attention to his right. “I will stack them up against anybody.”

Webb had high praise for his successor.

“I have the pleasure this morning to bring forth a gentleman who has been with me the longest,” Webb said of Hathaway, as he called him forward, along with Mrs. Hathaway to whom Webb handed the Sheriff’s badge for her to pin on her husband.

“You have worked hard; you have stood by me through thick and thin,” Webb told the new Sheriff. “This badge carries a lot of responsibility, but I know you’re the man for this job.”

As is customary with the “changing of the guard” of Sheriff, the Gates County deputies were sworn-in by Judge Reid to serve under Hathaway.

At their meeting on Sept. 7, the Gates County Board of Commissioners, in a unanimous vote, appointed Hathaway as interim Sheriff. That decision came on the heels of the Executive Committee of the Gates County Democratic Party recommending Hathaway for the position.

Prior to being named Sheriff, Hathaway served as Webb’s Chief Deputy. He joined the Gates County Sheriff’s Office as a rookie deputy on July 12, 1999.

“Over the years I’ve been able to learn a lot about law enforcement, especially the administrative side, from Sheriff Webb and (now retired Chief Deputy) Billy Spruill,” Hathaway said in an earlier interview.

Hathaway is a native of Gates County and a 1988 graduate of Gates County High School. He then went on towards a career in auto mechanics, earning two degrees from Roanoke-Chowan Community College in that line of work. He was employed as a mechanic in Ahoskie when the lure of law enforcement came his way in 1999.

He graduated from the Basic Law Enforcement Training program at the College of the Albemarle and hit the ground running with the Gates County Sheriff’s Office. Over the years he rose in rank, first as Patrol Sgt. and later as Chief Deputy upon Spruill’s retirement in 2012.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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