Procession honors Sheriff Young

A procession of law enforcement from across the state travels north on Hwy 321 towards Blair, former Sheriff Herman Young’s hometown. | Photo: Millie Lambert

FAIRFIELD COUNTY – A grateful community honored and said goodbye last week to Former Fairfield County Sheriff Herman Young during a procession of law enforcement officers and first responders from across the state.

Young, 78, died at his home on May 5, after an extended illness.

Sheriff Herman Young

The procession, organized by the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office, traveled from the Walmart parking lot in Winnsboro north on Highway 321 Bypass to Highway 34 where it turned west toward its destination – the town of Blair where Young grew up.

Young, whose law enforcement career spanned 52 years and straddled two centuries, served the county 22 of those years. He retired his post July 21, 2014 for health reasons.

Young was sworn in as Fairfield County’s first African-American Sheriff in 1992. Prior to that, he had served as Administrator for the Fairfield County Detention Center since 1973. Born and raised in Blair, he began his career in law enforcement in 1962 as a New York City Police Officer. Young returned to Fairfield County in 1965 and became the first black police officer with the Winnsboro Police Department. In 1972, he became the first African-American EMT with Fairfield Memorial Hospital.

Young had only been Sheriff a short time when his office made national news, reopening a 20-year-old case that had been originally filed away as a suicide. Young’s office brought closure to the cold case with a murder conviction.

Young was recognized by his colleagues as Sheriff of the Year in 1996 and served as President of the S.C. Sheriff’s Association from 2011 to 2012. He implemented the Summer Kids Camp and the Home Alone Program, a nationally recognized program that provides assistance to the elderly.

Nikki Haley, who was governor at the time of Young’s retirement, praised and thanked him for his service.

“Not only has Sheriff Young been an amazing public servant for 52 years, but he is also a dear friend,” Haley said. “We are proud to celebrate his wonderful years of service.”

The following year, Haley bestowed upon Young the S.C. Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest award, for his years in law enforcement. At that ceremony, Young thanked the community and his family for their support during his years of public service.

“And now, to my beautiful wife, Peggy, who steadfastly stood by and encouraged me every step of the way,” Young said. “You are my rock and I never could have done it without your love and support. Thank you and I love you. And to our wonderful children, Kecia and Michael, thanks for your love and for always being there for us. We are grateful for your families and for the beautiful grandchildren you have given Peggy and me.”

After Young’s death, the S.C. Sheriff’s Association posted the following on its Facebook page: “Sheriff Young was a gentleman and the consummate professional. He served as a mentor to many, both in the community and within his profession.”