By Alison Cutler
Source The Charlotte Observer
A Georgia state trooper icon died last week, prompting droves of condolences and online memorials.
Ronnie Gay was a retired master trooper and best known for his famous scene in “Smokey and the Bandit,” the Department of Public Safety said on Facebook.
“Smokey and the Bandit” was a comedy released in 1977 about a bandit on a mission to transport beer across state lines while avoiding a persistent sheriff and was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe, according to IMDB. Gay played the Georgia trooper in the film.
“He taught through his love and laughter of life to be genuine and compassionate to those we serve,” the department said. “This icon will be missed and we ask that you keep his family in your thoughts as they mourn his passing.”
Gay was 73 years old and died Oct. 21 after “a long battle with cancer,” according to his obituary. He was employed with the Georgia State Patrol for over 30 years. After he retired, he served as a deacon at the Douglasville Church of Christ.
“He was very active in his community and loved to make people laugh every chance he got. Ronnie lived for laughter,” Gay’s obituary said.
Friends and colleagues shared their memories of Gay, too, including Dan Stephens, a friend who shared how Gay would support him at every milestone in his life.
“We throw the word ‘legend’ around, but Ronnie Gay was the true definition. When anyone in a room said, “Well, Ronnie Gay said …” everyone stopped to listen. Ron was also the definition of a true friend,” Stephens wrote.
Gov. Brian Kemp shared his condolences on Facebook, too.
“I had the pleasure of meeting him at multiple Georgia State Patrol events and seeing firsthand both his humor and his genuine concern for others,” Kemp said. “We know his laughter and spirit will be missed by his loved ones, those who worked alongside him, and his community.”
There will be a visitation in Bremen, and Gay’s funeral will be held on Oct. 26, according to his obituary.
Bremen is about 50 miles west of Atlanta.
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