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Effingham County loses 'a good man' in Findley
Van Findley

RINCON — Longtime Effingham County Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie followed the successful footsteps of one of his predecessors — Van Findley.

Findley died Oct. 10 at the age of 79. He served as sheriff from 1983-1996.

McDuffie worked under Findley in a variety of roles, including patrol officer, detective and head of the office’s first traffic unit.

“He and I have a lot of resemblances,” McDuffie said. “He was appointed to the office and then had to run to keep it. Of course, he was born in July and that’s a good thing.

“I was appointed to the office and had to run to keep it, and I was born in July.”

McDuffie wanted to be like Findley in more important ways. He continued to talk with his former boss regularly after becoming sheriff in 2002. 

The chats lessened in frequency as Findley’s health deteriorated.

“I talked to him a lot before I became sheriff and got a lot of ideas from him,” McDuffie said. “I watched his style and the way he did things.”

Findley’s leadership style was personable.

“His office was always open and if you needed to go talk to him you could go in and sit down,” McDuffie said. “He never turned anybody away.”

McDuffie watched Findley’s dealings with the public and the way he handled personnel issues. 

“He told he one time that if he didn’t have employees he wouldn’t have headaches,” McDuffie joked. “Sometimes I totally understand.”

Under Findley, a former Port Wentworth police officer, the sheriff’s office grew from 10 employees to 67. It also added a 911 system and a $2.7 million state-of-the-art jail capable of housing more than 100 inmates.

The changes were necessitated by Effingham County’s explosive population growth. It boomed from 10,000 to 30,000 residents during Findley’s tenure.

“Getting that jail built was one of his many accomplishments,” McDuffie said.

Building relationships was a major feat for Findley, too, McDuffie said.

“He was a good man who loved his job,” McDuffie explained. “He loved doing what he was doing and he cared about people. Any time you saw him around folks, that was obvious.”

Findley is survived by his wife, Beth Findley; sisters, Frances Allen, Peggy Moore (Ed) and Vicki Lang (David); brothers, Jerry Findley (Judy) and Larry Findley (Jane Payne); sister-in-law, Ginger Shore; brother-in-law, Claude Shore; and many nieces and nephews.

After a funeral service at Rincon First Christian Church on Saturday, Findley was laid to rest in Guyton Cemetery.