Hundreds and hundreds of people turned out in Kinston Friday evening to pay final respects for retired Sheriff Billy Smith who died Thursday.
Visitation was from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Howard-Carter Funeral Home on West Vernon Avenue.
Smith passed away Thursday morning in a Goldsboro hospice center after a battle with lung and liver cancer, according to friends.
He retired nearly a year ago after serving as sheriff for 24 years.
Lenoir County Emergency Services Director Roger Dail said, "I've said from day one, we had the best sheriff in the state in Lenoir County and I still believe that."
Ernestine Taylor showed up to pay her respects. She works at Lowe's where Smith was a customer and says, "I just couldn't believe it. I was very sad. I said we lost a good one. He was a great man, a very great man. He knew us by name. He had been a faithful customer for over 20 years."
Susan Scott knew Sheriff Smith from growing up in Kinston and said, "He will be missed, but he will never be forgotten. He was a wonderful man and a hero to his family and also to his community."
Sheriff Smith's funeral will be 11:00 a.m. Saturday at the Deep Run Free Will Baptist Church.
Former Lenoir County Sheriff Billy Smith has died.
The Lenoir County Sheriff's Office says Billy Smith passed away this morning at a hospice center in Goldsboro.
Current Sheriff Chris Hill said Smith was battling cancer.
Smith retired March 31st after 24 years as sheriff. The new jail was recently named in his honor.
Friends say they learned just three weeks ago that he had been diagnosed with lung and liver cancer.
The mood at the sheriff's office was somber as employees remembered the long serving sheriff.
Howard-Carter Funeral Home says visitation for Sheriff Smith will be held Friday at the funeral home on West Vernon Avenue from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
The sheriff's funeral will be 11:00 a.m. Saturday at the Deep Run Free Will Baptist Church.
Smith is survived by his wife, a son and daughter, as well as a grandson.