Pictured (from left) are Sheriff Darren Campbell, Godfrey Click Kimball III, Brian Kimball and N.C. Rep. Jeff McNeely.


The bravery, service and sacrifice of Sheriff Godfrey “Click” Kimball, who was killed in the line of duty nearly 90 years ago, were honored in Iredell County on Thursday afternoon.

A short while after N.C. Department of Transportation workers installed a sign bearing Sheriff Kimball’s name on a bridge on Interstate 77 south at the Interstate 40 interchange, Sheriff Darren Campbell hosted a ceremony honoring the fallen lawmen.

Iredell County Sheriff Godfrey “Click” Kimball was killed in the line of duty on August 17, 1934.

“It was one of the worst tragedies Iredell had ever seen,” Campbell told the small crowd, which included descendants of Sheriff Kimball, that gathered all at the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office Annex for the ceremony. “It’s sad we had to wait this long to do this.”

Sheriff Campbell and Chief Deputy Bill Hamby began working to have a bridge named for Kimball about two years ago, but ran into a roadblock after learning that NCDOT guidelines restricted naming opportunities to individuals who had died within the last 70 years.

They turned to Iredell’s state legislative delegation — Sen. Vickie Sawyer and Reps. Jeff McNeely, Grey Mills and Mitchell Setzer, who worked around the guidelines by including funding for the project in the state budget.

McNeely, who attended Thursday’s ceremony, said he was glad to support the effort to honor Sheriff Kimball.

“We appreciate his service and all he did for Iredell County,” he said.

A World War I veteran, Sheriff Kimball was shot on August 17, 1934, at a home in eastern Iredell County while attempting to apprehend a man wanted for kidnapping and robbing the mayor of Statesville a week earlier.

Newspaper accounts at the time described the fugitive — a 25-year-old Davidson County resident named Ralph Davis — as vicious and compared him to notorious criminals Al Capone and John Dillinger. Davis was later convicted of second-degree murder and other crimes and sentenced to 100 years in prison. He was shot and killed by the Jackson County sheriff in 1948 after escaping from a prison camp.

“This was a rough person,” Campbell said. “The sheriff and his deputies knew who they were going after, but they still did it. He ended up losing his life due to his dedication to this county and its citizens.”

Kimball, 41, died at Long’s Hospital on the afternoon that he was shot, leaving behind two young children. His wife had died the previous year.

Citing Kimball’s service on the frontlines in France in World War I and as captain of a local cavalry after he returned home, Campbell called the fallen sheriff “an American patriot” and “hero” who deserved to be honored.

“When we’re all gone, his name will still be there (on the bridge),” Campbell said. “No matter if that bridge is rebuilt.”

Eddie Caldwell, the executive vice president and general counsel to the N.C. Sheriff’s Association, was among the guests at Thursday’s ceremony.

“It is important that we never forget the sacrifice made by Sheriff Kimball and other law enforcement officers — not only those who have been killed in the line of duty but those who serve every day, those of you who are in the room and those that are out on patrol and in the jail, courthouse, etc.,” Caldwell said. “It is a very tough job, but a very rewarding job. And it’s important that we recognize folks who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Two of Kimball’s grandsons, Godfrey Click Kimball III and Brian Kimball, also traveled to Statesville for the ceremony.

“We all appreciate this more than we can say,” said Godfrey Click Kimball III. “Every time I come through the county I will feel deeply honored.”

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