LaFayette Portraits of Honor celebrates law enforcement
Published 8:30 am Wednesday, April 12, 2023
LaFayette Main Street is honoring community members in law enforcement this month with their new Portraits of Honor display downtown.
The new portraits made their appearance on April 7 in the upper windows of the McClendon Building. Seven portraits showcase now-deceased LaFayette citizens who exemplified what it means to protect and serve.
“These portraits provide so many memories of their loved ones. Our law enforcement officers in LaFayette have been, and forever will be, commended for their service, courage and strength,” said LaFayette Main Street Executive Director DeAnna Hand in a press release.
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The LaFayette Main Street Portraits of Honor project aims to remember individuals who impacted the culture and history of LaFayette. Last month, several women were recognized for Women’s History Month. In February, prominent, local community leaders were honored for Black History Month.
This month, James C. Morgan Sr., Randolph (Stony) Bledsoe, Mike Looser, Jason A. Fuller, Eddy M. Ware and Robert Lewis Williams were honored for their courage, dedication and valor.
One of those to be honored this month is Deputy J’mar Abel, who passed away in the line of duty in 2022.
Abel was a deputy for the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office, who passed away in the line of duty in 2022. Abel loved law enforcement and had plans to eventually work with the U.S. marshals.
“It means a lot just because I see how much the community cares, and it’s just a great way to honor him and also speaks volumes,” said Jasmine Gaddist, Abel’s fiance. “That kind of shows the type of character that he had, the fact that people will care so much to nominate him.”
After two years with Chambers County Sheriff’s Department, he lost his life during a car chase, leaving behind Gaddist and their unborn child.
“I’m also appreciative for our daughter because she didn’t get a chance to meet him,” Gaddist said. “Having these pictures to show her how much her father meant to the community.”
Morgan, a World War II Navy veteran, served as the LaFayette chief of police and sheriff of Chambers County for a cumulative 30 years. Throughout his career and well into retirement, he continued to volunteer in the community. His favorite community projects were the Valley Haven School LaFayette Day and the Alabama Sheriff’s Girls and Boys Ranches.
In 1984, Bledsoe retired from the LaFayette Police Department, having been the city’s first Black police officer. After serving two year in the United States Marine Corps, he went into law enforcement. He received several certificates while working with the NAACP and ADC.
Born and raised in LaFayette, Looser began his career in law enforcement at Chambers County Jail, working his way up to chief investigator. After 10 years, he moved on to become the chief of police in LaFayette. He served for another 10 years before retiring, eventually being made president of the Alabama Police Chief’s Association.
Born in Langdale, Alabama, Fuller served the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office, becoming a captain. A former Eagle Scout, Fuller treated the community with respect. He served the county from 2001 until his passing in 2021.
Ware was an active member of the Alabama National Guard Det. I3058 Maintenance Company. He worked as a correctional officer for the Alabama Department of Corrections in Wedowee, Alabama. In 2000, Ware became the first African American chief of police in LaFayette.
In 1967, Williams joined the LaFayette Police Department and became one of the two first Black police officers in LaFayette. Throughout his career, Williams served the community by helping individuals with needs like applying for housing and land purchase. After 11 years, he became assistant chief at Camp Hill Police Department before retiring.
In May, Main Street will be recognizing Educators from LaFayette. Nominations can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with a portrait and short biography of the nominee. The deadline for this next month is April 24.
LaFayette Main Street, the city of LaFayette, Main Street Alabama resource team and Piquarious Graphics worked together to sponsor this project.