SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) -- Southport's first black police chief, George McCracken, 72, died in his sleep Monday. Today, he will be laid to rest.
McCracken's funeral will be held today at Southport Baptist Church on Howe Street at 2 p.m.
Thursday, friends and family gathered to mourn the loss of McCracken. They say he was a family man who excelled in all aspects of his life, especially his police work.
"Right now I'm just thinking about what I'm going to do now that he's gone," McCracken's widow Addie said.
Addie was George's high school sweetheart, and they had just celebrated their 50th anniversary earlier this month.
"He gave me this card, and when I opened it, lottery tickets fell out, and I just bust out laughing," she said. "I said, 'Well, he did get me something I like.'"
But she had no idea that would be the last anniversary they would spend together.
"It would touch my heart when I read it, but I didn't know it would be the last," Addie said.
George McCracken was more than just a family man. Those who knew him as police chief say he would try to stop trouble before it happened.
"He handled the position even handedly," family friend Tommy Harrelson said. "No matter who you were, what race you were, what class you were, how rich or how poor, he treated everybody the same."
And back in the '70s, a time when racial tension was high in the area, it was not always an easy job.
"He served in challenging times, too. He stood with the innocent against the guilty, the peaceful against the violent, and the righteous against the unjust," current Southport Police Chief Jerry Dove said.
Family members say he spent his last day doing exactly what he loved to do: watching sports and spending quality time with his friends and family.
Even his dogs sits by the door waiting to join his master for their daily ritual of sitting on the front porch together.
Family members say McCracken had many health problems that caused him pain over the years. They say they will miss him deeply, but are happy that he no longer has to feel any pain.
Visitation was from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Brown's Chapel AMEZ Church at 745 Jabbertown Road.