Looking back: Chief Burrow marks 25 years

Published 10:50 am Friday, April 10, 2015

by Clyde Parker

APRIL 10, 1965

Willie L. Burrow has been on the Franklin Police Force for more than 25 years, and has been Chief for almost 19 of those years. “I’ve worked with five city managers and three mayors, and I’ve seen practically every store on Main Street change hands.”

“Hassett’s and the Franklin Confectionary Shop are the only two stores that are being operated by the same men as they were when I came here.”

“A lot of the places have been in the same family, like W. T. Pace’s hardware store, but the management has passed from one member of the family to another”, he said.

Burrow, a native of Burrowsville in Prince George County, said that, when he came to Franklin, the police department had four full-time employees, one part-time car, and one motorcycle.

“The first thing I did when I was made chief was to ask the Town Council to sell that motorcycle. I felt it had broken up enough policemen,” he said. Burrow showed a long scar on his elbow which serves as a reminder of that two-wheeler. “The thing threw me one day and broke a bone in my elbow. I still have a piece of wire in there,” he explained.

That four-man police department has grown into a modern force with 13 full-time employees. We now have three patrol cars that cover about 110,000 miles of Franklin streets a year; and, we have a fingerprint department, a photography laboratory, and a complete record system.

“What gives the police department the most trouble?” the chief was asked. “Domestic squabbles,” he replied. “We get more complaints concerning family affairs than anything else.

“If we had the power to make the women love their husbands and the husbands love their wives, our job would be a lot easier.”

Chief Burrow is a past president of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, and a past president of the FBI National Academy of Virginia. He has taken law enforcement courses at the FBI National Academy in Washington, D.C., and at the Southern Police Institute in Louisville, Ky.

Franklin Edwards dies

Franklin Edwards, Commissioner of Revenue for the City of Franklin and formerly for Southampton County, died at Southampton Memorial Hospital early Sunday morning. He was 77.

He was the son of Colonel Luther Rice Edwards and Anna Lankford Edwards of Southampton County. Sycamore Hill, just west of Franklin – off Meadow Lane, was Edwards’ home and that of his Edwards ancestry dating back to the time of the American Revolution.

He was educated at Franklin Military Academy, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and Wake Forest College where he took academic and law degrees. He afterwards studied chemistry at Johns Hopkins University, and worked a year in sugar plantation management in Cuba.

Edwards left Franklin in 1917 as First Lieutenant of Company I of the Virginia National Guard, and became a captain in the famous 116th Virginia Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division. During World War I, in 1918, He commanded a company through the entire Meuse-Argonne battle in France.

During World War II, he was a Major in command of the Virginia State Guard Battalion for Franklin, Suffolk and Newport News.

Edwards was a charter member of Southampton Post No. 73, American Legion and a former commander of the post. He was a charter member and past president of the Franklin Rotary Club. He was a member of the Bruner Bible Class of Franklin Baptist Church and for about forty years, until his death, he was treasurer of the group.

Serving as Commissioner of the Revenue for 45 years, he was never defeated in campaign for the office.

Over the years, State tax authorities have been quoted as saying publicly “he is the best Commissioner in the State.”

Surviving are a sister, Miss Blanche Edwards of Franklin and nephews, Gordon Edwards of Winnetka, Ill., and Luther Rice Edwards of Falls Church, Va.

Dr. Ira D. Hudgins, Franklin Baptist Church, and Rev. Robert E. Davis, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, at graveside, in Poplar Springs Cemetery, will conduct funeral services on Tuesday at 2:30 PM. Military honors will be provided by a detachment from the Franklin National Guard Unit.

Pallbearers will be Clifford Cutchins III, Sidney Williams, Sol Rawls Jr., Hudson Lankford, Aubrey Lankford, Harold Atkinson, John Camp Jr. and Robert Ray.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is magnolia101@charter.net.