John Holley ~ "I Am Bertie Black History"


~John Holley~ Sheriff, Bertie County


John Holley is a 1979 graduate of Bertie Senior High School. Standing tall as an extraordinary varsity basketball player, he is even standing taller as a man of service and integrity. As you will read, John made Bertie history when he was sworn in as Sheriff in 2010. He is the first African American elected to that position. After spending approximately 40 years in Law Enforcement, he is not seeking re-election for the next term. His post-retirement plans include spending time with his lovely wife, Floretta, his grandchildren, who he fondly refers to as his “heart,” and continuing to help and support the community. He enjoys playing music at church, and looks forward to focusing more on that, as well. We are so extremely proud of John Holley, and his place in the record books of Bertie history. We are grateful that he chose a life of service to the beautiful people of Bertie County. Mr. John Holley is Bertie Black History!

TCV1: What community did you grow up in as a Bertie County youngster?

JH1: I grew up in the Merry Hill community, 11-12 miles from the town of Windsor.


TCV2: What are your first thoughts, as you reflect on life in Bertie?

JH2: Wow, my thoughts run to “blessed!” I grew up in a county that allowed me to beat the odds, in becoming the first African American to be elected Sherriff in the county.


TCV3: Why did you decide to pursue a career in law enforcement?

JH3: In the first grade, a teacher by the name of Mrs. Harrell, asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. I told her that I wanted to be a sheriff. A study was done regarding our goals, how far we were from achieving them, and determined if we would miss it or stay on track. That activity sealed it for me.


TCV4: Who were other influential people who formed that decision?

JH4: Most importantly, my parents helped to form my decision. I must also give credit to two other teachers (in addition to Mrs. Harrell), Emmett Kimbrough and William Peele. Mr. Kimbrough taught us how to be gentlemen and females to be young ladies. He made us practice etiquette to ensure that we knew how to be mannerly men, and how to treat women. I remember him telling me, “You’re gonna do some things.” Mr. Peele, who was a math teacher, also encouraged me. Teachers really cared about the quality of person we would become. There was so much one-on-one nurturing---in learning and personally.


TCV5: What is your most memorable experience as Sheriff?

JH5: The most memorable was being sworn in as Sheriff in 2010. I, personally, told Mrs. Harrell that it had come to pass.


TCV6: How did college factor into your career?

JH6: I was all set to go to college and finish. I planned to transfer after studying business for two years. Fate would have it that I attended a job fair and made the decision not to go back.


TCV7: Did your law enforcement career begin in Bertie County?

JH7: Many don’t know this…I was first contacted by the NC Highway Patrol to become a trooper, but I turned it down. I started my law enforcement career as a deputy in the county.


TCV8: What drove your choice to remain in the county to serve its residents?

JH8: I really wanted to help the residents here. When I was deputy, some people couldn’t understand the details of the papers that they were being served. Some couldn’t read. I desperately wanted to help! I once helped a woman to understand that the consequences of her situation could result in her losing her house. It saved her house and she thanked me until she died.


TCV9: What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?

JH9: I attended, voluntarily, the Sheriff Leadership Institute, in which I received a 2-year certification. Also, approximately six years ago, Bertie was named as one of the top ten safest counties in NC.


TCV10: What is one word that sums up your career in law enforcement?

JH10: 40-years


TCV11: What words of wisdom do you have for today’s officers or those who are considering the profession?

JH11: Be honest. Be true. Treat everyone like you want to be treated.


TCV12: What advice would you give young boys/girls that would motivate and inspire them to accomplish their goals?

JH12: Same as above----Be honest. Be true and treat everyone like you want to be treated.


TCV13: Your favorite quote?

JH13: “Nothing personal” ~ my quote


TCV14: Today, I am grateful for­­­­________.

JH14: Wow! Christ! Wife, and my family who supported me.


TCV15: What do you want your legacy to be?

JH15: ---That I am a fair person, no matter color or gender. I treat everybody like they’re somebody. I extend care to others.

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