TUPELO – Family, friends and law enforcement officers from across the region paid their final respects to Tupelo police detective Steven Wade.
The veteran officer died suddenly from a heart attack at his Pontotoc County home on the morning of Tuesday, March 27. Wade, 37, left a wife and three small children.
“We could make this a sad occasion, but it’s not,” said pastor Hayes Long of the Jesus New Testament Holiness Church. “We will miss young minister Steven, but this is a celebration.”
Nearly everyone who spoke at the funeral mentioned Wade’s infectious and disarming smile.
“You couldn’t be mad at him when he flashed that smile,” Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton said.
“He was always carrying a big smile on his face,” Tupelo councilwoman Nettie Davis said. “Whenever I saw him, I knew Tupelo was in good hands.”
Long said that smile was just one of Wade’s God-given talents.
“He had a way,” Long said. “If you were sad, he could lift you up.”
Wade was raised in the Red Hill community and graduated from East Union High School in 1999. His career in law enforcement began with the Booneville Police Department, but he spent the last 12 years at the Tupelo police department. At Tupelo, he rose to detective where he not only handled the bulk of the city’s juvenile cases, he also investigated other felony crimes. In addition to serving the community, he served the country as well. Wade completed two tours of duty in Iraq with the Mississippi Army National Guard.
He was a faithful member of the Jesus New Testament Holiness Church where he was minister, drummer and youth leader. At home, he was a husband to Aretha for nearly 9 years and the proud father of a son, Warren, and two daughters, Reagan and Morgan. One of his most recent challenges was as Cub Scout leader, heading Pack 85 that included his son.
“He was always doing something with his family,” said Latonya Burgin, transitional counselor for Lee County Youth Court. “I’ve never seen a man pack that much life into 37 years. But for those who knew him, that was Steven. In his short life, he touched many.”
The funeral filled the sprawling sanctuary at White Hill Missionary Baptist Church Saturday afternoon.
“This crowd is a lasting legacy to the life he lived,” Shelton said. “There are all walks of life represented out there – social workers, doctors, lawyers, educators and law enforcement officers from all over the state.
“As a city, we are forever grateful for detective Steven Wade. We will always remember him as a hero.”
Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre said Wade’s thoroughness made him one of the best crime scene investigators he had ever seen.
“The Lord truly blessed Steve with skills, many of which he learned just by being patient,” Aguirre said. “He was a leader, mentor and teacher.”
Wade went out of his way at times to help children, both as a police officer trying to ease delinquents back on the straight and narrow and as a man of God.
“You could tell Steven was a Christian young man and an outstanding mentor to our youth,” Davis said. “He carried the badge of dedication, bravery and courage.”
After the funeral service, dozens of police vehicles from across the region headed the procession that took Wade on the final 20-mile journey to the Red Hill Community Cemetery near Blue Springs.
The TPD Honor Guard presented the flag that draped the casket to Aretha Wade. Aguirre also presented the children with TPD Challenge coins. Wade’s only son, Warren, also received a TPD badge tie tack from the chief.
At 4 p.m., Lee Communications signaled the end of his watch, saying D-4 (Wade’s radio call sign) was out of service.
“He may be gone but the memories of things he did for us and with us will linger on,” said cousin Coretta Hurd. “We lost a soldier but God has an angel.”