Tony Woody's legacy honored


Monument a tribute to county's longest serving sheriff

  • (Becky Long • Clay County Progress) Former sheriff Tony Woody receives congratulations from former sheriff, Vic Davis.
    (Becky Long • Clay County Progress) Former sheriff Tony Woody receives congratulations from former sheriff, Vic Davis.

Clay County’s longest-serving sheriff, Tony Woody traveled from his farm in Kentucky to a ceremony at the courthouse where a standing-room only crowd gathered to commemorate his history-making tenure in office and decades of service in law enforcement.

A new flag pole was installed and a flag-raising ceremony was held by local veterans before the unveiling of the exterior monument that sits adjacent to the front steps of the sheriff’s office with the inscription: “Sheriff Tony M. Woody Law Enforcement Center — served 1984 to 2006.  The ceremony was brief as people moved inside out of the misty, cold rain to share the many stories of Woody’s days in office.

Speakers ran the gamut from former employees to defense attorney Jerry Townsend to long-time resident and supporter, Aaron Martin to County Commissioners Scotty Penland and Clay Logan. Former sheriff, Vic Davis and Sheriff Bobby Deese also praised the sheriff the impact his has had on the county and its people.


“You may think it’s odd that a Republican sheriff would come and talk for a Democrat sheriff. It just goes to show what a great guy he is,” Davis said. “He has impressed a lot of people. He did a good job.”

Deese echoed the comments of how Woody is revered in the county. He also remembers Woody giving him advice as a teen. “Twenty-two years as sheriff is phenomenal. It will never be matched. Not a week goes by that people don’t mention how well he treated people.  He game me advice as a kid. He told me  to ‘Be somebody.’ Who would have ever thought I would be sheriff. If I can be an ounce of what he was it would be a monumental event.”

Logan commented on how Woody respected the people in our communities and while his took his job seriously, he did not take himself so seriously. 

While attending a funeral during his last term, someone was complaining incessantly to Woody. Logan said Woody shook his head and replied, “I’ve kissed your fallers’ hind ends for a long time — now you can kiss mine.”

Scotty Penland also spoke of growing up in Shooting Creek, the same stomping grounds Woody and noted how the sheriff would take time to listen to every call that came in to his office. “A cat got stuck in this woman’s tree. He listened to her for 30 minutes. I don’t know if he ever got the cat down or not, but he talked a good game.”

Former deputy Doyce Waters said when Woody commented on the monument he said, “Doyce, what about that. I’m not dead and they already bought me a tombstone.”

Many people told stories of the earlier days and in the end, Woody had few words to say when it was his time at the podium.

“I want to thank you all. I very humbled,” he said.

Deputy Melvin Cantrell coordinated the monument project along with the help of many friends and admirers Clay County’s longest serving sheriff.