published Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Officers mark 40 years since Buford Pusser's death

SELMER, Tenn. — Officers and constables from all over West Tennessee met at the McNairy County Fairgrounds on Thursday to honor the legacy of Buford Pusser.

The Jackson Sun reports the inspiration for the "Walking Tall" movies is still a legend in this area.

During Pusser's six years as McNairy County sheriff beginning in 1964, he was shot and stabbed multiple times as he tried to rid McNairy County of organized crime. His wife, Pauline, died in an ambush in 1967 as she rode with Pusser to a disturbance call. She was killed instantly, and Pusser's jaw was shot away, probably by two rounds.

Pusser died seven years later when his car hit an embankment shortly after leaving the county fairgrounds. Friends and family still believe the crash was no accident.

Officers on Thursday marked the 40th anniversary of Pusser's death with a trip from the fairgrounds to the crash site.

Savannah Police Department Sgt. Allen Shelling said Pusser has always been an inspiration for him.

"I was 10 years old when his death happened, but I was a fan of him," he said. "Growing up and watching the movies, and being close to Savannah, I always try to honor his law enforcement years and death."

Dyer County Constable Bobby Byrum agreed.

"I was 16 years old when Buford got killed," he said. "I was living over in Wayne County at the time and just been a Buford fan ever since."

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