JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – There are officers who protect and serve. Then there are some who go above and beyond.
The family of Eddie Bounds, a veteran officer in Jacksonville Beach and Neptune Beach, said he was “superman.”
Bounds served for the beaches departments and school board police for more than 40 years. It didn’t stop there.
He coached baseball and football at Fletcher High School. He mentored youth. He fed the homeless. He raised his family in the community he grew up in.
He died Saturday following a battle with COVID-19.
Before he passed, his wife said he wanted to leave behind a legacy and not a reputation.
“He was a good man, a very good man,” his wife, Janice Bounds, told News4Jax. “I’m going to miss him.”
The two met in 1983 under less-than-ideal circumstances.
“We met -- he pulled me over,” she said with a chuckle. “That’s how I first met him. He pulled me over on First Street. I was squealing my tires, and he gave me a stern chewing out and one of those, point your finger, ‘So you could have killed somebody with how fast you were driving’ to letting me go.”
They reconnected at a restaurant she worked at and it was love at second sight. She quickly discovered his dedication and devotion to his community.
“He would come home and I would say, ‘How many tickets did you write? How many people did you arrest?’ Because I wanted to hear the exciting stories. He said, ‘It’s not about that. It’s about how you treat people. Give them respect because everybody has a story. And not everybody needs to go to jail and not everybody needs to get a ticket to learn a lesson.’”
He loved children, working as a school resource officer at Fletcher High School, coaching baseball and football to keep students out of trouble. He was a star athlete at the school himself.
“He was probably the most compassionate person,” his wife recounted. “A giving person. The stories I’m hearing about things I didn’t know. How he bought the homeless people food.”
She said he was a great father, raising Cayla and Tyler, who followed in his father’s footsteps as a police officer. His second grandchild was born Tuesday, three days after his death.
The week has been bittersweet.
The Bounds family is thankful for all the support. A Neptune Beach cruiser in front of his home is covered with flowers and cards and is surrounded by American flags. It is now a reminder of the lives he touched, the lives he changed for the better.
“I can’t help but smile, cry,” Janice Bounds said. “When I talk about the good he does, it puts a smile on my face. He’s going to make our family better people. We’re going to strive to be better just to honor him.”
Saturday, hours after his death, dozens of fellow officers led a somber procession for Bounds’ body, escorting it from the hospital to the funeral home. It was a showing of respect on beaches streets he loved by the people he protected.
Bounds’ loved ones said they did not want to publicly give details about his fight with the coronavirus, noting their focus was on honoring his life.
Family members are planning a celebration of life Tuesday at the Church of Eleven22 at Beach Boulevard and San Pablo. The visitation begins at 2 p.m. with the service starting at 3 p.m. His wife said everyone is welcome.
Following the service, police will escort his body through the streets of Jacksonville Beach and Neptune Beach before ending at the cemetery where he’ll be laid to rest with a 21 gun salute.