BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (WTVF) — Friends and family said their goodbyes Saturday morning to country music singer and Franklin Police Officer Jeff Carson. Last week, Carson suffered a fatal heart attack. He was 58 years old.
A crowd, mainly clad in blue, gathered at Brentwood Baptist Church to share memories and give him a final farewell.
"Your brothers and sisters in blue have it from here. Franklin acknowledges Officer Jeff Carson number 414 is 10-7 and out of service," said Franklin Police Dispatcher Bob Jarmon, during the traditional Last Call of Service.
It was a final call for a man who was always ready to answer for 14 years as a Franklin officer.
"Jeff was truly a cop’s cop and he was our buddy. Jeff, we’ll love you forever and miss you always," said Franklin Police Chief Deborah Faulkner. "Everywhere he went, he built friendships, I think even among the people he arrested, they all liked him."
His fellow officers told the crowd that Carson had the unique ability to tell when someone really needed to laugh, and he always delivered.
"You come into your office and you pull your chair out from under your desk, you go to sit on it, and as soon as you sit down, HONK," said Sgt. Brandon Sandrell of Franklin PD.
Sandrell described how Carson once snuck inside an Electrolux corporate meeting just for a free plate of food, and played practical jokes like planting clothing security tags into jacket pockets.
"Every business you walk into — siren noises — everybody’s looking at you like you stole something," said Sandrell.
Sandrell also played a montage of parody videos that Carson recorded himself, including one where he tells his fellow officers, "Just wanted to say sorry to my guys in my zone covering for me while I’m here, but it takes that long," Carson said.
Then someone from the shop tells Carson, "I told you your car was done over 2 hours ago."
If you couldn't tell already, Carson didn't just mind the spotlight, he relished it. That makes sense, because before he joined the thin blue line, he spent a lot of time on big stages like the Grand Ole Opry and music venues across the country.
"Jeff had the music career, he was successful; he had his dream, he had everyone in Nashville’s dream, and he walks away from it to be a policeman," said Mike Glenn, Senior Pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church.
In the 1990s, Carson landed 14 country songs on the Billboard charts, including "The Car." The song suited Carson well, given his deep love for his Chevy Chevelle, a car he bought sight-unseen down in Florida.
"Apparently he paid for it and drove across the street to get gas and it wouldn’t start," said Karen Herndon Spurlock, Carson's sister.
Naturally, the Chevelle was the first car behind the hearse, as Officer Carson departed on his final journey. Bathed in blue light, as his friends and family looked on, the procession from Brentwood Baptist was a fitting tribute to a man who always answered the call.
"He gave us a lot of laughs but he truly lived his life in service to others," said Sandrell.
Carson is survived by his wife Kim Herndon Carson, son Dayton Grei Herndon Carson, mother Virgina Herndon Norton, brother Steve Herndon, sister Karen Herndon Spurlock as well as aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.
Carson was interred at Williamson Memorial in a private grave service.