James Alfred “Ned” Holder, 78, of Ruleville died Monday at North Sunflower Medical Center.
He was a man who "wore many hats" and according to those who knew him, his presence will be greatly missed.
Holder was a former coach, farmer, Justice Court Judge, and sheriff.
"When I heard that he had passed away, I was very sad. Ned and I were friends for a long time. He was very passionate about his work and he worked hard at being the sheriff," said Sunflower County Chancery Clerk Paula Sykes.
Holder served his county for over 16 years as sheriff and he was adamant in ensuring the well being of his constituents.
"Ned was a strong believer in discipline – he worked for the county and he served it well. Anytime I called on him for assistance he was always available. He also had a wonderful relationship with his staff and he seemed to connect with anyone who came in his presence," said Drew Mayor Harvey Burchfield.
"He was always very concerned about the citizens in Sunflower County.
“Whenever there was a crisis in the city he made sure that he tried to help. He was a great asset to Sunflower County," he added.
Holder touched the lives of many individuals and he was said to be a good man.
"I was elected chancery clerk during the time that Ned was the sheriff. At that time the jail was in the courthouse and it had become over crowded. Ned opened a part time jail – it was a lot of hard work on him to have that operation in place," said Sykes as she cleared her throat.
"He saw a great need for another jail; therefore, between 1995 and '96, he worked with the board of supervisors to build a new jail. He did a good job with all of that," she added.
Bolivar County Emergency Management Director Bill Quinton said he recalls an instance when Holder stepped in and rendered a helping hand to the Cleveland Police Department.
"When he was the sheriff, I was working with the Cleveland Police Department. I remember one particular incident when we worked together on an armed robbery in Ruleville," said Quinton.
"He was very involved in apprehending the criminals and he was very active in getting the search warrants together for us to find the items that had been stolen in the robbery. He worked well with us," he added.
Sunflower County Sheriff James Haywood said his first encounter with Holder was while Holder served as a Justice Court Judge.
"When I was a state trooper, I had the opportunity to work with him on a couple of cases – he was a very admirable person and very dedicated," added Haywood.
"Ned was highly passionate about his job. I remember when he was first elected sheriff; we had a situation with an attempted bank robbery in Indianola. He worked closely with the Highway Patrol Department to apprehend the individual that was involved in injuring one of the bank employees. He is certainly going to be missed in the community," he continued.
Although Holder was passionate about his job, he also enjoyed having fun and occasionally "shooting the breeze."
"Ned was a lot of fun to work with – he was just a colorful person who was always full of funny stories and anecdotes. I really enjoyed working with him," said Sykes.
"I saw him about a year ago and he seemed to be really enjoying his retirement," she added.
According to Ruleville Mayor Shirley Edwards, Holder was more than a county official.
"We were friends and whatever comes along with being a friend is what we were. I am greatly sadden by his passing because I think he was a great man and a wonderful person," said Edwards.
Holder is survived by his wife, Patricia Holder; sons, Scott Holder and Todd Holder; daughter, Kay Downs; stepchildren, Brian Ward, Paige Burns; grandchildren, Blake Holder, Ashley Holder, Ty Holder, Reed Downs, Sarah Frances Downs and step grandchildren, Bailee Goss, Olivia Burns, Dylan Ward, McKenzie Ward, and Seth Ward.
"I feel sorry for his family because he has a sweet bunch of children and they are very successful. Ned was crazy about his children. His family has all of my sympathy," said Sykes.
Funeral services for Holder were held on Wednesday at Ruleville Baptist Church.