11/09/10 — Goldsboro police officer loses leukemia battle

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Goldsboro police officer loses leukemia battle

By Gary Popp
Published in News on November 9, 2010 1:46 PM

James Serlick

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News-Argus file photo

A ladder decorated with messages of hope for Goldsboro police officer James Serlick is seen at the Relay for Life in May.

Goldsboro police officer James Serlick was remembered Monday and today as a brave young man who battled cancer with the same determination and courage he showed as an officer of the law.

Serlick, 26, died Friday at Wake Forest University Medical Center after fighting leukemia for nearly two years.

He was remembered at a memorial service Monday night at Pikeville Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church as a Christian man who cared about his family and his community. Hundreds of people attended the service, including scores of law enforcement officers. His burial was this morning in the Pikeville Cemetery.

"He was a fighter," said Capt. Al King of the Goldsboro Police Department this morning. "He had more fight in him than any young man that I have known in my life. He never gave up."

Fellow officers said Serlick's Christian faith gave him strength.

"James would always say it is not about me, it is about God," said police Chief Tim Bell, adding that "This whole experience has brought this department together as one."

The chief said Serlick was a hard worker and loved being a policeman.

"He did good work. He loved to come to work."

King echoed Bell's comment about how Serlick's battle affected the department.

"We are a closer knit unit because of James," he said. "James Serlick will be here every day ... He will be here every day."

King added that Serlick did not allow others to feel sorry for him during his illness.

"He was focused on his beliefs. He had a great belief in God. During the 18 months he battled leukemia, every time I talked to him his thoughts were not on himself, they were on others."

Sgt. Trey Ball was a close friend.

"He touched many more lives that he ever knew," Ball said.

Serlick, a graduate of Charles B. Aycock High School and Wayne Community College, had served with the Goldsboro Police Department for five years.

Popular with his fellow officers, Serlick was an active man. He enjoyed sports of all types and was a runner and a motorcycle enthusiast.

He leaves behind his widow, Paige, his parents and grandparents, three sisters and a younger brother, Chase, who has said he wants to follow in his brother's footsteps as a police officer.

Over the course of his illness, friends and supporters held several fundraisers to help the Serlick family with expenses, from fish fries to chicken dinners. A bone marrow drive to try to find a match for a bone marrow transplant also was held and he underwent several bone marrow transplants.

Serlick suffered from a rare form of cancer, chronic myeloid leukemia, which is extremely aggressive. He was first diagnosed in early 2009.

At the Relay for Life in May, he was honored as an Honorary Heart by organizers and although he was unable to attend because he was in the hospital, his luminary stand was one of the biggest at the event.