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In Memory of “Killer”


Everyone around town knew him as “Killer”, but if you spent any time around Charles Tomlinson, you quickly realized he was a man with a humble and gentle spirit. With more than 40 years spent serving as a law enforcement officer, Tomlinson loved his community. 


Since his passing in January of this year, the Tomlinson family have been blessed to hear countless stories of how Charles quietly served others, never looking for recognition. He could frequently be seen praying with those he arrested and giving rides to anyone who needed one. “He never said an unkind thing about anyone,” says Alyson Atchley, Tomlinson’s daughter.

His care and compassion naturally extended to Sherry’s Run, a local grassroots non-profit that benefits families battling cancer in and around Wilson County. The Tomlinson family began participating in the event in 2004, the year it began, and their support has increased every year. “The support Sherry’s Run gives just means so much. It stays here in our community and relieves the financial strain of these families.”

The cause became more personal for Charles in 2013 when his nephew, Clint, was diagnosed and needed assistance. Clint received support from Sherry’s Run and like his uncle, was determined to pay it forward. The family formed “Clint’s Crusaders” in his honor and have continued that legacy to this day.This year the team will be called “Clint’s Crusaders: Killer Strong” in memory of both beloved men. 

Pop Pop CharleyCharles believed that supporting Sherry’s Run was what God wanted him to do to serve others and his family agrees. But his service didn’t stop there. His verse to live by came from Isaiah: “Here am I, send me!” and he truly lived that out. Charles was active at his church, Immanuel Baptist, and was specifically passionate about their backpack program which provides school supplies for children in our community each year. But most importantly, Charles was an incredible blessing to those closest to him. Especially his precious granddaughter, Charley, named in his honor. 

Charles was a fighter and beat cancer multiple times himself. In 2008, they found it in his lungs. After surgery, he went right back to work doing what he loved to protect and serve his community. In 2014, it was back and this time Killer went through chemotherapy and radiation treatments, but he fought through and was still able to return to work in a part-time capacity. So, in 2016 when the doctors said “brain tumor”, the family was still optimistic that he could fight it. 

When more tumors showed up on the MRI, they realized it was time. “He was heaven bound at that point,” says Joyce, Charles’ wife of 48 years. The family enjoyed precious moments with Killer throughout the holiday season and he passed from this life on January 25, 2017, leaving a legacy of love and service for everyone who knew him and even many who didn’t. 

The 14th annual Sherry’s Run 5K will be dedicated to the memory of Charles “Killer” Tomlinson. Please join us as we remember his life of service along with honoring so many who continue to fight the greatest battle of their lives.

Corrie Cluck

Faith, courage, optimism and a desire to help others were qualities that defined Sharon “Sherry” Patterson Whitaker. Both before and after the energetic wife and mother was diagnosed with colon cancer, the impression she made on her family, friends and community was undeniable. While her battle in the flesh was lost in 2004, the spirit she had shown throughout life continues to touch more lives every day. Because of Sherry’s Run, a 5K run/walk benefit organized in Sherry’s memory, area cancer victims and their families can make strides toward becoming cancer survivors, and researchers are a small step closer to stopping the disease for good.