DILLON COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — A procession was held on Tuesday for Dillon County Sheriff Douglas Pernell after he died Monday night in his home.

“I called him the gentle giant,” said Darlington County Sheriff James Hudson Jr. “He was a good person, he was a good sheriff, he was a good friend.”

Pernell’s body was transported by Dillon County EMS from Grand Strand Medical Center to Bartell Funeral Home on Tuesday morning.

A family friend of Pernell’s said he was the type of sheriff who would call you personally to listen to your concerns about Dillon County.

Pernell, who was 61, served more than 30 years in law enforcement and was elected sheriff of Dillon County in 2020.

Sheriffs from across the Pee Dee reacted Tuesday to his death.

“When I was stationed there in Dillon County as a trooper, he actually helped me, the community,” Florence County Sheriff TJ Joye said. “He would bring us together, hit-and-runs and stuff like that. He would just, he knew the people in the community. He’d been there his whole life, he was a great asset.”

News13 just spoke with Pernell, also known as “Humbunny,” last week, when he spoke out after a deadly shooting at a Dillon County nightclub. 

When asked where the nickname came from, he said it was a name he had gotten randomly when he was younger that followed him since then.

But his legacy will stay even longer.

“He was committed and he was dedicated the whole time,” Marion County Sheriff Brian Wallace said. “And he never gave up. And I think his dream of being sheriff was achieved.”

Wallace said the last time he spoke with Pernell, he was excited about a joint crime oppression operation that ended successfully.

A sheriff’s deputy told News13 a memorial will be made on top of Pernell’s black patrol truck to honor his memory.

No cause of death has been revealed yet.

Gov. Henry McMaster plans to appoint an interim sheriff soon.

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Aundrea Gibbons joined the News13 team in May 2023 after graduating from Clemson University with bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and communication. Aundrea is a Marion native and graduated as salutatorian in 2019. Follow Aundrea on Twitter and read more of her work here.