Former sheriff Joel Thames dies

Published 2:38 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Former Lawrence County Sheriff Joel Thames has died.

“It is with great sadness that the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office announces the passing of longtime former Sheriff, Mr. Joel Thames,” the office said in a Facebook post Tuesday. “Please remember his family in your prayers.”

Funeral services for Thames are Thursday at 2 p.m. at New Hope Baptist Church in Monticello. Visitation is Wednesday from 5 to 9 p.m. at New Hope Baptist Church. Thames was found early Tuesday morning by his wife, Sheriff Lessie Butler said.



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Thames served four terms as sheriff — he was first elected in 1999. He was defeated by Butler in November.

“He was a changing point for the county,” Butler said. “There are some things that he did while in office that are still in place now. He was involved. He did a lot of positive things for the county.”

In 2010, Thames was sworn in as president of the Mississippi Sheriffs’ Association.

“In this job, you have to be fair and impartial. It’s tough sometimes trying to settle differences between two people,” Thames said then. “You do what you feel is right in your heart when making a decision, and unfortunately sometimes one side is not happy.”

In 2013, Thames switched parties after being a Democrat for 28 years.

Thames had some health issues.  In 2008, he was hospitalized after his family could not wake him for work. A Daily Leader story at the time said Thames had a history of throat cancer.

According to his Facebook page, he was 58.