HOKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- There were somber moments in Hoke County on Friday as mourners paid their final respects to Sheriff Hubert Peterkin, a man who dedicated his life to serving the community.
"We have lost a great legacy, but at the same time we're grateful for the years Hubert has given of himself to this community," said Peterkin's friend Jackie McLean.
Peterkin died at just 59 years old. He had cancer but died unexpectedly from complications following surgery.
"When I found out he had passed it was like the world stopped. Some news you receive is just unbelievable. It took me awhile to even comprehend what I was being told. Huge loss to our community," County Commissioner Allen Thomas said.
Peterkin left behind a wife, two daughters and son.
A public viewing service took place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Conference B Headquarters, where Peterkin spoke at a memorial service for George Floyd in 2020.
His private funeral service for family, law enforcement and others began at 2 p.m.
Hymns of comfort echoed throughout the chapel. Peterkin's only son, Antonio, told the crowd his dad drew strength from people around him.
"I know he'd want me and my sisters to be better than he was. I believe if I could be half the brother, son and father he was, I'd be OK," Antonio Peterkin said.
Outside the Cape Fear Conference B, there was a display of honor and respect as the American flag hung over the parking lot entry.
Deputies who worked with Peterkin shared memories of him. Deputies described him as a man of excellence: a fearless leader who had a profound impact on those around him.
"He knew our families. He knows my wife by name. He knows my family by name. He'd ask, 'how's your wife' and use her name and kids' names. It wasn't generic. He knew your family. He knew you," said Capt. Steven Blakley with the Hoke County Sheriff's Office. "Somebody asked earlier could it be replaced? I said i don't think it can ever, ever be done. I just hope we can continue to go in a positive direction."