BOONE — Only the sound of the wind and the clomping of the horse-drawn caisson could be heard near the Holmes Convocation Center on May 6, as the funeral service took place for late Watauga County Sheriff’s Office deputies Chris Ward and Logan Fox.
Hundreds of community members and law enforcement personnel gathered outside of the convocation center as the caskets of the two men and their families were escorted inside. Police officers and sheriff’s deputies led the procession into the building, followed by family members and the caisson carrying the men one at a time.
The service took place eight days after a 13-hour standoff that resulted in the death of the two deputies. At least 45 law enforcement agencies from outside of Watauga County were in attendance — not counting in county agencies, though an exact number of agencies represented was unknown as of later that evening.
Once inside, the services were opened by Sylva Police Chief Chris Hatton, who previously served as a lieutenant at the Boone Police Department. As he only left the Boone Police Department a year and a half ago, Hatton said being in Boone feels like home. He noted that often in law enforcement, officers refer to each other as family.
“We see familiar faces; we see unfamiliar faces. There’s a large group of people here and not all of us are related to these families. Not all of us are first responders, not all of us are even members of this community. We don’t all know each other. But we’re all here for the same reason today. And that is to honor and pay respects to these two men, these two heroes.”
Hatton said many of those in attendance knew Ward and Fox well while others didn’t know them at all. But he said none of that mattered, as they were all there for a common purpose.
“Today, we are all members of the Ward and the Fox family; we’re all members of the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office family. Today we are all family.”
David Ward and Tim Fox, fathers of the two fallen deputies, stood before the crowd and said a few words. David Ward said that his family and the Fox family have been overwhelmed by the April 28 tragedy, but have equally been overwhelmed by the “abundance of compassion and help from everybody.” With an arm around Tim Fox, David Ward said their sons responded to calls even if it was to help fix a lawn mower or to hold people when they needed to cry.
David Ward recognized that the day also served as the National Day of Prayer, and proceeded to share a prayer with attendees.
“God we come to you, just thanking you for the peace and the strength you gave me and Tim to stand here today,” David Ward said in his prayer. “Lord, we don’t want to be here, but we feel like it’s necessary. Lord, I pray for our law enforcement, you touch them and give them strength in all that they do. God be with our nation today. Lord, I pray today that you would help our families heal. Lord help us to be able to go through this in the next few days, one of the hardest things we’ve ever faced. But God we pray that you just fill our hearts with comfort, grace. Lord, just be with us ever single step of this way.”
As Fox was a handler to K-9 Raven, many K-9s from around the state joined the service and were each walked in a processional through the convocation center to pay their respects.
Watauga Sheriff Len Hagaman then recalled when the world stopped for the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, after the World Trade Center was attacked. He said the world seemed to stop again on July, 26, 2012, but that “this time it was here; it was one of our own,” with the death of WCSO Deputy William Mast.
“On Wednesday, April, 28, 2021, our world stopped again. And like July 26, 2012, again, it was for our own — Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox,” Hagaman said.
Hagaman quoted Romans 5:3-4: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance. Perseverance, produces character; and character produces hope.” He added that sometimes the truths of these words are hard to see as the words test law enforcement officers every day as servants to the public.
To the Ward and Fox families, Hagaman said WCSO will continue to be there for them in the coming weeks, months and years down the road.
The Rev. Franklin Graham spoke during the service, recalling the Bible verse John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Graham said that it is the hope of every person who puts their faith and trust in Jesus Christ that they will join God in heaven, and can reunite with their loved ones.
“It’s not that we say goodbye, it’s we’ll see you later,” Graham said.
Graham added that he thanks God for the bravery of Ward and Fox, and the example that they have set for another generation and for others to follow.
“Heavenly Father, we come to you today, thanking you for your son, Jesus Christ, thanking you for these two men who gave it their all,” Graham said. “Father, my prayer is for their families, that you’ll put your loving arms around them, that they will sense that your presence and your comfort in these days ahead.”
Pastor Derrick Wilson, of Timbered Ridge Baptist Church in Sugar Grove, said he came in from farming on April 28 and saw he had a missed call from David Ward. He called David Ward back, who said, “Preacher Derek, there are two law enforcement officers down, and I think one of them might be my son.” Wilson tearfully went on to quote several passages of scripture and share a prayer with attendees, and said he would continue praying for both the Ward and Fox families.
The honor guard with the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office folded the American flags that draped each casket, and handed the folded flags to Hagaman. Hagaman then delivered each flag to family members while embracing them with a hug.
Graveside services were not open to the public. Ward was to be buried at Green Valley Baptist Church Cemetery, and the Fox family was planned to receive family and friends at Mount Vernon Baptist Church the following day, according to Austin and Barnes Funeral Home.