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Law enforcement community mourns passing of Harold Tingle
The flag that was lowered to half-mast at the Shelby County Courthouse Friday was not the only honor accorded to former Sheriff Harold Tingle who died that morning from complications from a recent injury.
The truest honor was the legacy he left behind, said Shelby County Sheriff Mike Armstrong.
“I look around me and I see a little bit of him everywhere,” he said. “He has left his stamp on this community, and the stamp will stay.”
Tingle had been hospitalized at the University of Louisville Hospital since falling in his bedroom May 11, when he struck his head on a nightstand, breaking his neck. Even after two surgeries, he was still paralyzed from the neck down, family members said.
Many have remarked about the irony of the tragedy, for Tingle, who was still so active, even at age 77, to have suffered such a critical injury from something so unlikely.
“He’s took a lot of lumps in his life, got hurt doing farm work and other things, and still kept going strong, and now to have something like this happen,” said Armstrong. “It’s so terribly sad.”
Said Shelby County EMS Director Jeff Ivers: “It sure makes you realize you just don’t know when it’s going to be your time.”
Tingle had been doing farm work that very morning, helping his brother Joe Tingle with mowing.
Joe Tingle, who retired last year after a 21-year law enforcement career as a deputy, constable and court bailiff, also credited his brother with getting him started in law enforcement.
“I started under him as a deputy,” he said. “I would have just farmed, and I wouldn’t have had the retirement and stuff that I’ve got now.”
The brothers had no other siblings, and so were especially close, growing up in Shelby County.
Harold Tingle is also survived by his wife, Katherine.
Tingle was Shelby County Sheriff from 1990 to 2002, when he retired.
He is credited with modernizing the office and setting a pattern of progressiveness, said Armstrong, who was Tingle’s chief deputy the entire time he was sheriff.
Armstrong, who was elected in 2002, said he has continued to adhere to the principals that Tingle set forth as sheriff.
He said that since Tingle was injured, he had been thinking about him, and those thoughts turned to memories Friday morning when he learned of his death.
“I’ve been remembering the good times we had and even some funny times,” he said. “You have to understand, I have lost someone who was such a big part of my life. He was the first person I worked for and he was with me when I made my first arrest. His influence and guidance made me what I am today.”
Ivers called him, “A great guy.”
“He was my boss for seven or eight years at the sheriff’s office,” he said. “He was one of a kind; he was always looking out for his employees and making sure we were safe.”
Harold, son of Roy and Ella Tingle, had always been a farmer in addition to being sheriff.
But Tingle, a 1955 graduate of Simpsonville High School, had also had a great career as a high school athlete at Simpsonville High School as well, said his brother.
“They came out with a new encyclopedia for the state tournament and he got an honorable mention,” said Joe Tingle.
“It was an honorable mention for the 8th Region, and back then, it was a pretty big deal. He averaged quite a few points; he was good. He played from the middle of his freshman year ‘til he was a senior for the Simpsonville Bobcats. He was small, but he could really jump.”
Joe Tingle said that his brother chose not to play college basketball because his ambitions lay elsewhere.
“He just wanted to farm,” he said. “Then he got interested in law enforcement and he was a deputy, then finally, sheriff.”
Joe Tingle said that though arrangements hadn’t been made yet, the funeral would be at Shannon’s Funeral Home early this week.
“The Jefferson County Sheriff’s office will have an honor guard there,” he said. “One of the chief deputies there was good friends with him.”
David Eaton, Simpsonville City Administrator, said Harold Tingle’s photo still hangs on the wall of the former high school [now Corpus Christi Academy] along with all the school’s other graduates.
He was saddened to hear of Tingle’s passing, he said.
“Harold’s a good friend of mine; please just give me a minute,” he said, when told of Tingle’s death.
Eaton said that what he wanted to say about Tingle is that he did a great job as sheriff and was a real asset to the community.
“I have lost a good friend today, and really, so has this whole community,” he said.