”Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.”
The Rev. Chuck Moates read those words from Revelation, reminding the crowd gathered Friday at Blyth Funeral Home that the late Sheriff Giles Daniel’s many great deeds live on long after him.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God,” Moates said. “This peacemaker and sheriff spent 41 years in law enforcement — 24 of them as sheriff of Greenwood County.”
His service during World War II in the U.S. Navy from 1943-46 was aboard the USS Hornet, a ship Daniel referred to as “the blessed ship” because of its tenacity amid storms and withstanding multiple kamikaze attacks. Upon coming back stateside he bought a service station and began working on getting his GED.
During this time, he developed an interest in law enforcement, and before long, then-Greenwood County Sheriff Cal White learned of Daniel’s gifts and offered him a job.
“Giles said he had spent so many years away from home, he really didn’t want to leave again,” Moates said.
Daniel served for 17 years as a deputy before becoming Greenwood’s fifth sheriff and served in that capacity for 24 years until his retirement.
Besides an illustrious career that included being awarded Sheriff of the Year in 1989 and the state’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Palmetto, Daniel had a family that he loved dearly. He bragged constantly about his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Moates said.
“They were the best grandchildren and great-grandchildren who had ever been born,” Moates said, to laughs from Daniel’s family. “Yes, your granddaddy thought a lot of you. A whole lot.”
In his later years, Daniel’s daily routine became so tied to the friends he’d made in life. His morning meetings at the mall with the fellow old-timers was something he’d never miss, watching the mall-walkers and trading in conversation and old stories.
Afterward, Moates said Daniel would head to the Dixie Drive-In for a cup of coffee and another round of chats with old friends. Each Wednesday morning saw him sipping a cup of joe with his fellow American Legion Post No. 20 veterans, an organization he was fiercely loyal to.
Those Post No. 20 friends of his raised their hands to their heads in salute as Daniel’s coffin-draped casket was carried past by the sheriff’s office honor guard.
“The work of Giles Daniel’s hands has been well-established,” Moates said, “and will continue on long after this day.”
At Oakbrook Memorial Park, the former sheriff was granted military honors as Navy officers folded the flag atop his casket and handed it to his son, William Daniel. The sound of the bugle playing Taps echoed through the park the way Daniel’s career and life continue to echo and ripple through the lives of all those he touched.