Spartanburg County deputy Austin Aldridge remembered for smile, bravery during funeral service

·9 min read

The funeral for fallen Spartanburg County Deputy Austin Derek Aldridge will be at 4 p.m. Sunday at The Church at the Mill, 4455 Anderson Mill Road, in Moore. You can re-watch the live video stream, above, in this story via Church at the Mill's YouTube page.

The Rev. Bill Morris officiated. Burial will be in Westwood Memorial Gardens, 6101 Reidville Road, in Moore, with the North Carolina Highway Patrol Honors Team and Caisson.

The funeral and burial will be private services for family, friends and law enforcement.

Aldridge, 25, died Tuesday from a gunshot wound while responding to a domestic disturbance call in Spartanburg County earlier that afternoon. He was born May 20, 1997. He attended Byrnes High School in ninth grade before transferring and graduating from Wren High School in Anderson County. Aldridge played football at both Byrnes and Wren.

The funeral procession was held Sunday afternoon for fallen Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office deputy Austin Aldridge. The procession is shown on St. John Street in downtown Spartanburg.
The funeral procession was held Sunday afternoon for fallen Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office deputy Austin Aldridge. The procession is shown on St. John Street in downtown Spartanburg.

Direction: Reverend Amos Durham

5:09 p.m. | Reverend Amos Durham returned to the stage to direct the congregation on how to exit the church and proceed to the graveside component of the service, following the procession route previously outlined.

Aldridge will be buried at Westwood Memorial Gardens. The remainder of the service will not be livestreamed nor available to the public.

Closing Prayer: Reverend Josh Bradley

5:07 p.m. | Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office chaplain Josh Bradley closed the service in a word of prayer.

"We are thankful that He has overcome evil with goodness...darkness with light," Bradley said in his prayer. "You overcame death with eternal life."

Eulogy: Reverend Bill Morris

5:05 p.m. | Reverend Bill Morris from Lyman First Baptist Church gave the eulogy.

"You knew, behind that smiling face, there was a wall that stood between you and whatever harm may come your way," Morris said about Aldridge.

He said that Aldridge at the most basic level had unselfishness and bravery but, more importantly to him, Christ-likeness.

"It's unbelievable that something this evil could happen to Austin (Aldridge) and his family," Morris said.

He uses this as encouragement to the family, though, because he assures them that Jesus has been where they are, felt all of the evil in the world, yet came through it.

"Law enforcement is not a ticket to Heaven. Austin Aldridge is not in Heaven because he died in the line of duty," Morris said. "Aldridge is in Heaven because he is saved."

He said that, although the crowds supporting the family will not last forever, Christ's love will wrap them forever.

Song: "In Jesus' Name"

4:53 p.m. | Church at the Mill musicians perform Katy Nichole's "In Jesus' Name."

Words of Encouragement: Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright

4:50 p.m. | Spartanburg County sheriff Chuck Wright assured the congregation that, when he thinks of Austin Derek Aldridge, he will not think of the events of Tuesday.

He will be thinking of how much Aldridge always smiled, to the point that Wright joked he would get bugs in his teeth.

"Grief is the price we pay when we love someone," Wright said. "By golly, I'm gonna pay that price."

Regardless of this grief, Wright said that he and his department will finish this work.

"We will carry your torch from here. Your torch did not go out Tuesday; it still burns bright," Wright said. "We've got it from here."

He then assures the family that what the department has done for them for the past few days will not stop when the service is over. He says that Aldridge's family is now and forever a part of the Sheriff's Office's family.

"I will see that big ole rascal again, and I hope the Lord is giving him a noogie right now," Wright said.

"Until we meet again, my friend, later tater," Wright concluded.

Remarks: Jason Nix

4:39 p.m. | Nix opens his speech with much thanks and gratitude towards those who responded to the call of Aldridge's death.

He also invited the congregation to join him in an applause for first responders who assisted at the scene of Aldridge's shooting on Chaffee Road. Although unconventional, he assures the crowd that Aldridge was unconventional as well.

"I want to serve a warrant," Aldridge said. Nix assured him that this was standard police work.

While issuing this warrant, Aldridge climbed over a fence.

After watching Aldridge struggle, Nix walked through the gate and said, "You do know fences have gates, right?"

Aldridge assured him that he did know that fact, but thought that climbing would have been cooler.

Nix was Aldridge's first partner after joining the force and watched him become an experienced deputy after that and numerous other entertaining learning moments.

Remarks: Johnathan Andrews

4:34 p.m. | Johnathan Andrews says that he comes on behalf of friends and loved ones.

"I've heard him referred to many times in the past week as being as loyal as a golden retriever, and I think that is giving the golden retriever a lot of credit," Andrews said.

Aldridge, as Andrews recalled, was a loving brother, friend, husband, son and, for a few days, father.

"The stories I have are many, and they will last me the lifetime that he didn't get to live," Andrews said.

Andrews said Aldridge was the best and most loyal friend a person could have.

"Although he was never a fast runner, he beat us to the Lord," Andrews joked.

Remarks: Aldridge's older sister, Stephanie and brother-in-law, Victor

4:29 p.m. | Stephanie told many stories from Aldridge's childhood all the way to him starting his life with his wife, Jessica.

She recalls being smitten with Austin Aldridge from the second he was brought home from the hospital.

She said she was having low self esteem after dying her hair one time as a child and young Aldridge assured her, "Sissy, you look pretty no matter what color your hair is."

Victor and Stephanie regret that he will not be around to raise his "unborn children" or see their children grow up together.

Remarks: Captain Greg Satterfield

4:19 p.m. | Captain Greg Satterfield, Uniform patrol captain for Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office spoke some remarks.

Satterfield told a story of his smile, offering him the nickname "golden retriever."

He wanted to also tell the story of the viral photo of Aldridge giving a small child a teddy bear.

Aldridge wanted to give a child a teddy bear while responding a trespassing call. The child ran, so he chased after him. Aldridge was not aware that his partner was filming the entertaining incident.

From his application for Spartanburg County's Sheriff's Office over four years ago, Aldridge gave many reasons for wanting to join the Spartanburg police force.

"The reason I want to work as a police officer is because I want to help people as well as show the community that police are here to help," Aldridge wrote. "If you wish to help a community, the one you need to start with is yours... I believe Spartanburg county is the department that is best for me."

Song: "Scars in Heaven"

4:16 p.m. | Church at the Mill musician performs Casting Crown's "Scars in Heaven"

Livestream pans to show the casket overlaid with an American flag.

Chaplain Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office Chaplain reads Psalm 23, New Testament reading

4:11 p.m. | Dr. Bobby Rookard reads Psalm 23 in its entirety.

Reverend Keith Davis also read John 14:1-6.

Song: "This One's With Me"

4:08 p.m. | Church at the Mill singer and pianist perform "This One's With Me" by NewSong.

Senior chaplain at Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office opens the service

4:05 p.m. | Reverend Amos Durham opens the service in a word of prayer.

He outlines the order of service as song, Old Testament reading, New testament reading, song, remarks, words of encouragement, song, eulogy, benediction and directives

Pastor DJ Horton speaks

4:02 p.m. | Church at the Mill's pastor, DJ Horton, welcomes the congregation to the church and offers his and the church members' support during the service.

Church at the Mill livestream begins

3:52 p.m. | The livestream began with over 400 viewers.

A slideshow of images of Aldridge and his loved ones played before showing the church's sanctuary filled with friends, family and law enforcement.

Funeral procession for Austin Aldridge leaves for Church at the Mill

3:03 p.m. | The funeral procession for Austin Aldridge has left Floyd's Mortuary in downtown Spartanburg for Church at the Mill in Moore. The procession continued down E. St. John St. and onto John B. White Sr. Blvd./Reidville Rd. It will turn left onto Anderson Mill Road and into the Church at the Mill parking lot.

Funeral procession for Austin Aldridge beginning soon

2:40 p.m. | The funeral procession for Austin Aldridge will begin soon from Floyd's Mortuary.

"Our son and our daughter in law both worked with (Aldridge)," Rodney Graves said. "It means a lot to show the support for law enforcement, our community and all the men and women in blue.

Graves and his family were out in support of Aldridge since 2:30 p.m.

Sheriff speaks on deputy shooting: Sheriff Chuck Wright: Suspect shot Austin Aldridge, tried to flee scene in his patrol car

Candlelight vigil: Candlelight vigil pays tribute to deputy Austin Aldridge. Sunday's funeral procession planned.

Austin Aldridge's obituary

Austin Derek Aldridge, age 25 of Spartanburg, SC, passed away in the line of duty on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, while employed as a Deputy First Class with the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office. Austin was born in Greenville County on May 20, 1997, graduated from Wren High School in 2016, and attended North Greenville University. He graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy in 2019 and began his law enforcement career with the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office on April 8, 2019. Austin married his loving wife, Jessica Link Aldridge, on September 14, 2019. She is expecting their first child in February 2023.

Austin enjoyed tabletop and video games, The Lord of the Rings, reading for fun, and working out at the gym. Austin treasured time with family and an abundance of dedicated friends he referred to as, “The Party.” Austin was a precious soul who loved the Lord and served on the security team at his home church, First Baptist Lyman in Lyman, SC. He was kindhearted, slow to anger, patient, genuine, witty, brave, and incredibly loyal to his family, friends, and community.

In addition to his wife, Jessica, and their unborn child, Austin is survived by his mother, Deborah Spearman Aldridge of Simpsonville, SC, and his father, Derek Alan Aldridge of Fountain Inn, SC, his sister and brother-in-law, Stephanie Arntz Tenbrink and Victor Tenbrink and nephews, James Tenbrink and Luke Tenbrink, all of Virginia Beach, VA, his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Mark Wesley Link and Monica Kent Link of Spartanburg, SC, and his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Hannah Link Lassiter and John Lassiter of Pensacola, Fla.

Click here to read Aldridge's full obituary. 

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This article originally appeared on Herald-Journal: Watch: Spartanburg County Sheriff's deputy Austin Aldridge's funeral