A crowd of people gathered to celebrate the career of a veteran Blount County Sherriff’s officer.
Capt. Dale Gourley retired after 35 years on the job. The turnout to wish him well in retirement was a surprise to the veteran officer.
“I was very, very humbled by it,” Gourley said. “Humbled is all I can think of. It left me speechless. My career wasn’t about me. It was about what you do for others. That’s been a motto of mine.”
In addition to the turnout at the reception at theh Chilhowee Club, which was hosted by the Blount County Sheriff’s Department, Gourley said that many who couldn’t make it to the reception called to wish him well.
Gourley compared his new lot in life to a garage door that finally has the tension taken off it. “It’s like a garage door spring breaking. All the tension is off. You realize that by the second week, even though you get used to it, the stress was always there,” he said.
The longtime lawman had this advice for anyone starting a career, especially in law enforcement. “Make sure you get into it for the right purpose and reason. For me, getting into law enforcement was an answer to prayer,” he said.
Gourley said he was 20 years old and had no idea what he was going to be doing in his life. “I was facing 21at the time, and me and the good Lord had a talk and I said, ‘Give me something I could do to make a difference.’ Six months later, I was in law enforcement. I knew from first time I rode in a patrol car my prayers had been answered,” he said.
Gourley said it is easy for the job to become the No. 1 priority. “If I was going to give advice to someone on what to do with their life, it would be ‘Keep your priorities straight.’ After 26 years, I found out I had put the job first, and job should be down the line. Put God first, then family and things will work out.”