With nearly three decades in the funeral business, Ted Bearden is rarely surprised.
But earlier this month, the Dawson County official found himself at a loss for words when he was named the state’s top coroner by the Georgia Coroner’s Association.
“I had no idea my name had been submitted, but I’m very honored and humbled,” he said.
Currently serving on the association’s legislative committee, Bearden was the group’s president in 2008 when he “championed several causes and worked diligently to improve the association,” according to a nomination letter by several of his peers.
Ralph Wilson, coroner of Butts County and group’s president in 2009, called Bearden “one of the greatest leaders that has ever been in the association.”
“Ted gained the reward because of his work, his attitude, willingness to serve and the success he’s had in the ventures we’ve had,” Wilson wrote.
While committed to the association, Wilson said Bearden always has Dawson County and its people in his mind.
Dawson County Deputy Coroner Lanier Swafford agreed.
“During his tenure in office, he has worked to advance our local office and has provided unselfish, unwavering service to the citizens of Dawson County,” he said.
Bearden stressed that the local coroner’s office is “no one man show.”
“I get a lot of the accolades, but I tell you, Lanier Swafford and Billy Thurmond work cases the same as I do,” he said. “We’ve got to be able to maintain a composure to do our work, to do it thoroughly with being ever conscious that that family has lost someone.
“And I think Dawson County does as good a job at that as anybody possibly could.”
Bearden received the 2010 A.R. King Coroner of the Year Award during the association’s annual convention Sept. 18 in Macon.
A county native, Bearden has served as coroner since 1996.
He is the owner and operator of Bearden Funeral Home in Dawsonville. He and his wife, Lisa, have two sons, James and Wesley.