A deputy confirmed his death Saturday morning. ABC11 learned that Peterkin, 59, was being treated for cancer but died from complications of surgery.
According to the Hoke County Sheriff's Office website, Dr. Peterkin served in law enforcement for more than 30 years, including a career with the Fayetteville Police department. He was first elected sheriff in 2002 and was elected for five terms--even running uncontested for his fourth term.
He was also elected vice president and later president of the North Carolina Sheriff's Association in 2015. Eddie Caldwell, a current executive vice president and general counsel for the association, remembers Peterkin as a leader.
"Sometimes people lead by their presence and they lead by their questions--and probing questions--to prompt people to think about things from people's perspectives," Caldwell said in an interview with ABC11.
Peterkin received numerous awards, including the key to the City of Raeford and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award from the Governor's Office.
Peterkin also spoke at one of several memorial services for George Floyd held at Cape Fear Conference B Headquarters in Raeford.
"If I deny all the wrong law enforcement is doing today. I am denying the color of my skin," Peterkin said during the service. "There is a lot of good police officers in this world...but we can't afford to have 1 or 2 percent doing the mess that we're seeing right now."
According to the sheriff's website, Peterkin was a lifelong resident of Hoke County.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper expressed his condolences on Twitter on Saturday morning:
U.S. Congressman Rep. Richard Hudson released a statement honoring Sheriff Peterkin:
"Renee and I are devastated to learn of the passing of my friend for almost 20 years, Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin. Through his service first with the Fayetteville Police Department and then as Hoke County Sheriff, Sheriff Peterkin was a fierce advocate for law enforcement and our community. A lifelong resident of Hoke County, Sheriff Peterkin devoted his life to improving our entire region and state, and he will be missed. Please join us in praying for his family and the Hoke County Sheriff's Office."
Other law enforcement officers also shared their condolences Saturday morning.
Durham Sheriff Clarence F. Birkhead released the following written statement:
"It is with a heavy heart I remember my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Hubert A. Peterkin. We were very close personally and professionally as Sheriffs representing our respective counties of Hoke and Durham. Sheriff Peterkin was one of the longest-serving Sheriffs in North Carolina - for close to 20 years he represented his constituents in Hoke County with class and dignity.
"Sheriff Peterkin's leadership with the North Carolina Sheriff's Association (NCSA) will never be forgotten. When I was first elected in 2018, Sheriff Peterkin immediately reached out to welcome me to the brotherhood of sheriffs. I recall an early conversation in 2019 when Sheriff Peterkin told me, 'We're not Republican sheriffs. We're not Democratic sheriffs. We are sheriffs. We represent all people.' He was always available to provide guidance and counsel to any sheriff, especially a newly elected sheriff like myself.
"I will not forget his leadership following the murder of George Floyd. I, along with other Sheriffs across our state, admired his peaceful manner working closely with the Floyd family to organize a memorial service in his birthplace of North Carolina.
"In closing, my condolences go to Sheriff Peterkin's family, the Hoke County Sheriff's Office, and the neighboring Fayetteville Police Department."
Many others took to Facebook to post sincere thoughts and prayers for the sheriff's office and Peterkin's family:
Peterkin is survived by his wife and three children.