01/26/14 — Greenfield will take on duties until appointment

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Greenfield will take on duties until appointment

By John Joyce
Published in News on January 26, 2014 1:50 AM

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Maj. Tom Effler responds to questions during a press conference held Friday at the Wayne County Sheriff's Office.

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Maj. Fane Greenfield

Wayne County Sheriff Carey A. Winders died suddenly Friday morning after apparently suffering a massive heart attack at his home in Pikeville.

He was 57 years old.

Wayne County EMS responded to a call of an unresponsive person at the sheriff's home, but were unable to revive him.

Winders was transported to Wayne Memorial Hospital, where physicians continued to work on him, but he was pronounced dead shortly after he arrived at the hospital.

Winders, elected to office in 1994, began his law enforcement career a decade earlier as a Goldsboro Police Department patrol officer. He served the county for 20 years as its sheriff and was preparing to run for another term this year.

According to a press release issued late Friday, Maj. Fane Greenfield will fulfill the duties of the office of sheriff until a sheriff has been appointed by the Wayne County Board of Commissioners.

Greenfield has been tapped to serve in that capacity since he is the longest-tenured member of the Sheriff's Office.

The Wayne County Republican Party has 30 days to nominate a potential appointee to be voted on by the commissioners. Whomever the commission appoints will serve as sheriff for the remainder of Winders' elected term, and would then step aside or run for the office in the upcoming election cycle.

Wayne County officials and the county's Republican Party will have to officially take up that discussion, but local leaders say they will wait until after Winders' funeral -- out of respect for the family.

Goldsboro police Chief Jeffrey Stewart, who joined the city police department just 18 months after Winders, remembered his friend Friday.

"He truly cared about everybody, it didn't matter who you were or what the circumstances were," Stewart said.

He added that Winders took him under his wing and the two climbed through the ranks together.

"We got promoted to detective together. He was a very, very professional law enforcement officer," he said.

Stewart offered his personal condolences, and those of his department, to the Winders family and the entire Sheriff's Office.

Maj. Tom Effler, head of the Sheriff's Office Investigations Division under Winders, talked about his boss, and friend, during a press conference Friday afternoon.

"He was just a good fella," Effler said.

Effler said he had known Winders for nearly 40 years, since the time they were both in school at opposite ends of the county.

"Everybody knew Carey," he said.

As a lawman there was none more dedicated, Effler said.

"He was always being sheriff -- 24 hours a day," he said.

Effler fondly recounted a time when Winders, while working out, heard a call about an armed robbery over the scanner.

He said the sheriff jumped in his car, still in his workout clothes, and drove right to the scene, arriving ahead of his deputies -- and while the culprits were still there.

"He had to run around the back of his car, open his trunk and get his gun out, then he comes back around -- but he did, he apprehended them," Effler said.

Thinking ahead to the next time he is called to a crime scene or is asked to attend a local event, places to which he and Winders customarily arrived together, Effler could muster few words.

"It'll be bad ... it will be bad."

While some are remembering Winders as a vigilant lawman, others miss the friend -- the man they say was known for a vibrant sense of humor and random acts of kindness.

Retired Marine and chaplain emeritus of the N.C. Military Order of the Purple Heart Bill Carr was shocked to hear the news.

The last time he saw Winders was just before Christmas, when the sheriff, as he did every year, dropped a ham off at the veteran's home.

"He was one of my best friends and was like a son to me. I loved him like a son," Carr said. "There will never be another sheriff like him, and Wayne County sure is gonna miss him.

"I have been just sick. It's just like losing a man -- a good friend -- in combat. To me, Carey reminded me of a good Marine. So, I'll miss him. I miss him now. God bless him."