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Commissioner, former sheriff passes away

By Keeli Parkey

Walter Garland
Walter Garland

Walter Garland, a well-known Unicoi County public servant, passed away on Friday, May 27. He was 81. A memorial service for Garland was held on Tuesday, May 31, at Rock Creek Presbyterian Church.

Garland, who was serving as Unicoi County Commissioner representing the third district at the time of this death, was born in Burnsville, N.C., but lived his entire life in Unicoi County, according to his obituary. He was the son of the late Howard and Margaret Garland.

“Walter always took his job as a county commissioner very seriously,” County Mayor Greg Lynch told The Erwin Record. “He was always looking out for the best interest of the taxpayers. The people who elected him were always his number one concern.”

In addition to his service on the County Commission, Garland was a former sheriff and chief deputy for the county, as well as a policeman for the town of Erwin. He also served the county through the Unicoi Ruritan Club and as a member of the county’s Civil Service board.

“I am going to miss working with him, both (in county government) and with the Ruritan Club,” Lynch said. “He was always at our functions to help us, whether it was slicing strawberries or selling hotdogs at the Strawberry Festival – Walter and his wife, Betty, were always there, always contributing. The community is going to miss him.”

In his spare time, Garland enjoyed woodworking and playing golf. He also worked as a partner of Clarence’s Drive-In in Unicoi before retirement.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a sister, Frances Louise, according to his obituary. Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Betty Haun Garland; a son, Mark Garland of Unicoi; one daughter, Teresa Collins and husband Jerry of Unicoi; one grandson, Jabies Collins of Erwin; three sisters, Ruby Peake and husband Gene, Dolly Bailey and husband Kyle, Shirley Brinkley and husband, Bill; two brothers, Kenneth Garland and wife Barbara, Ronnie Garland and wife Karen; and several nieces and nephews.