Ride to benefit officer’s family

Published 7:47 am Wednesday, July 15, 2009

FRANKLIN—Organizers of Saturday’s benefit for the family of Sgt. Gary D. Falls are hoping for a big turnout and clear skies for the event, which will include a motorcycle ride and barbecue.

Falls, a Vietnam veteran who was to retire on July 1 after 37 years in law enforcement with several agencies, died on June 18 following complications from heart bypass surgery.

“The benefit is for his family, who are facing some serious medical bills at this time,” Franklin Police Lt. Tim Whitt said Tuesday.

The motorcycle ride will start from the Franklin Police Station, located at 1018 Pretlow St., with registration beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing until 11 a.m. The ride will start at 11:15 a.m. The registration fee will be $15 for the rider and $10 for a passenger. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.

Franklin Police Detective Sgt. Kenneth Barham said the motorcycle ride will be approximately 55 miles long and will traverse the City of Franklin and Southampton and Isle of Wight counties. Riders will also be going through Newsoms, Courtland and Sedley.

“We’re hoping for a good rider turnout,” Whitt said. “Hopefully we’ll get a good group of motorcyclists to come out for us. And we’re also praying that the weather cooperates.”

Barbecue plates including baked beans, cole slaw and a roll will be available for $7 each to all of the motorcyclists returning from the trip, and also to anyone who wishes to help the Falls family in their time of need.

“We’ve been selling quite a few tickets for the barbecue,” Whitt said. “Anybody is welcome to come by.”

Falls served with the U.S. Army 1st Cavalry Division and the 82nd Airborne Division from 1963 to 1966 and was stationed in Vietnam.

After his military service, he worked with the Norfolk Police Department from 1972 to 1979, the Smithfield Police Department from March to August 1979, and the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office from September 1979 to December 1997. He had been serving with the Franklin City Police Department since March 1998.

Falls also served as a DARE officer in Isle of Wight County and a school resource officer in Franklin.

For more information on Saturday’s events, contact Lt. Whitt at (757) 562-8587, Det. Sgt. K.L. Barham at (757) 562-8584, or Sgt. M.A. Cornell at (757) 562-8549.