Spartanburg Day School is remembering deputy Austin Derek Aldridge for his bright smile and his friendly personality that allowed him to form a bond with students and faculty.
Aldridge, 25, was killed in the line of duty on Tuesday. June 21, while working as a deputy for the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office. Aldridge died at 9:26 p.m. Tuesday from injuries sustained in a shooting on Chaffee Road.
In September, Aldridge also started working with the Day School's security team.
Day School administrators said staff and students are saddened by the loss of Aldridge.
"He could light up a room with his smile," said Rachel Deems, the Head of School for Spartanburg Day School. "He never met a stranger and our students looked forward to his visits on the sidewalks, in the Dining Commons, or in the halls. He supported all of us on his days on duty."
When Aldridge began working at the school in September, Deems said he "immediately made a connection with the students and faculty.
'Your torch did not burn out': Deputy Austin Aldridge memorialized during Celebration of Life
"On behalf of Spartanburg Day School, we offer our deepest sympathies to his wife, his family, and to his fellow officers in the Spartanburg County Sherriff's Office," Deems said. "We will always remember and appreciate him for his professionalism, his outgoing and helpful nature and for his decision to serve and protect this community."
Aldridge 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 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,” according to his obituary.
Survivors include his wife, Jessica Link Aldridge, who is expecting their first child in February 2023, the obituary states.
Survivors also include his mother, Deborah Spearman Aldridge of Simpsonville, and his father, Derek Alan Aldridge of Fountain Inn, his sister and brother-in-law, Stephanie Arndatz Tenbrink and Victor Tenbrink and nephews, James Tenbrink and Luke Tenbrink, all of Virginia Beach, Virginia. His father-in-law and mother-in-law, Mark Wesley Link and Monica Kent Link of Spartanburg and his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Hannah Link Lassiter and John Lassiter of Pensacola, Florida.
The Sheriff's Office held a candlelight vigil on Friday, June 24, for Aldridge and a crowd of people showed up for the service.
A private funeral service was held Sunday for family, friends of family, close friends, and law enforcement. Burial followed in Westwood Memorial Gardens in Moore.
Crowds also lined the streets to pay final respects to Aldridge. Some waved flags while others saluted as the funeral procession drove by on its way to the church.
Memorial donations may still be given to Aldridge's Go Fund Me page here. As of Monday afternoon, over $194,000 has been raised for the $250,000 goal to help the family.
This article originally appeared on Herald-Journal: Spartanburg Day School mourns loss of resource officer Austin Aldridge