CHATSWORTH — There aren’t many people in Murray County who don’t have a “Judy Poag story.”

“I’m sure each and every one of you here has many tales they could tell,” Billy Childers said at Charles “Judy” Poag’s funeral Tuesday afternoon at Peeples Funeral Home. Poag, former sheriff and state representative, died Saturday at 73 at his Eton home.

The chapel’s pews were filled Tuesday with family, friends, law enforcement officials and elected officials, who bittersweetly remembered the life of Poag with lots of laughter.

“I’ve never met anyone that didn’t know Judy,” Childers said. “He touched so many lives in so many ways. Can you imagine all the lives Judy touched in his walk of life? I do believe Judy’s rejoicing in heaven, and I think he would want us to rejoice. As (Judy’s brother) Jackie said to me, ‘Judy’s going to be elected mayor (in heaven) before long.’”

It was “not unusual” for Poag to go to Childer’s house on Saturday mornings to say, ‘Bill, let’s get some corn or watermelon.’ We would go to somebody’s house who had given him permission to gather corn or watermelons — or so I had thought,” Childers joked.

Poag and Childers loaded the corn or watermelon onto Poag’s truck and “we would give them to people,” Childers said. “He was a giving person.”

Poag was instrumental in opening the senior center, which was later named for him. He continuously gave to the center, officials have said.

Poag’s lifelong friend, James “Footsy” Pierce, shared stories during Poag’s funeral.

“I started trying to remember when I first met Judy,” Pierce said. “And I finally came to the conclusion I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know Judy. We have known each other most of our lives. We grew up in Eton.

“We had the support of a good family, a loving family. But as the saying goes, ‘It takes a community (to raise a child).’ We had a community to support us.”

Pierce said that they had support outside of the community from “a higher authority.”

“When we were 11 or 12 years old, we were swimming,” he said. “And Judy, for some reason, I don’t know why, climbed a tree back behind the swimming hole. He fell out of the tree because a limb broke. He hit a stump or a log or something.

“When we got to him we thought he was dead. He was unconscious and his eyes were rolled back in his head.”

The boys who had been swimming laid Poag’s body over the handlebars of a bicycle to take him back to town for help, Pierce said. Some people say the bumpy road caused Poag to start breathing again, but “I think differently,” he said.

“I think the Lord looked down and said, ‘I am not going to let that kid spoil what I have planned for him just because he fell out of a tree.’ And he breathed. I guess an hour later we were back at the swimming hole,” Pierce said laughing.

He said it was in high school when Poag realized he was a “politician.”

“He realized that he had a unique personality that he could convey his thoughts to other people and convince them of those thoughts,” Pierce said. “He began to use that.”

After college at Lincoln Memorial University, Poag began teaching at Murray County High School.

“He called me over and said, ‘I’m going to run for sheriff,’” Pierce said. “And I said, ‘You’re out of your mind.’ He said ‘I’m teaching school and I am going to go home to every student and meet their parents. And I’m going to meet everyone in the county, and that way I am going to win.’”

That was 1956, when Poag lost the election for sheriff by 32 votes.

“He lost by a few absentee ballots, people who didn’t have the opportunity to meet him,” Pierce said.

There are several stories most people who have heard the name Judy Poag have heard.

One of those is that Poag fell asleep in church during a Wednesday evening service.

Bobby Mosteller, who grew up with Poag, leaned over and punched him and said, “Judy, the preacher asked you to pray,” Mosteller said.

Poag stood up to pray, even though the preacher had not really asked him to.

“That is my favorite Judy story,” Childers said.

Another story many people have heard is the one about when Poag was first elected sheriff.

“He stopped someone for speeding,” Childers said. “During the course of the investigation he thought the driver appeared to have been drinking. So he asked the driver to step out of the car and asked him to walk the white line. The problem with that was, they were on a dirt road.”

Pierce said the cliche “God must have thrown away the mold when he made Judy Poag” isn’t right.

“I don’t agree with that. I think instead of throwing away the mold, God said, ‘Don’t put more than one Judy Poag within 100,000 miles of each other.’ Judy Poag meant too much to this earth to throw the mold away.”

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