Serving Panama City, Panama City Beach, and Bay County Florida
Eugene LaVelle Pitts of Panama City, FL went to be with the Lord Tuesday, July 9, 2019. He was 84. LaVelle was born October 9, 1934 in Holmes County, Florida to the late Dallas and Annie Mae Pitts, and was preceded in death by his brother, Larry Pitts.
Those left to cherish LaVelle’s memory include his beloved wife of 48 years, Sally Jo Pitts; children, Janet Pitts Russell (Michael), Mitchell Pitts (Patty), Jon Pitts (Wanda), Susan Pitts Frazier (Jeffery), Molly Pitts May (Chris), and Chip Pitts (Kelly). His grandchildren, Courtney Pitts Hoggarth (Chris), Sarah Miller Byars (Michael), Faith Pitts, Anna Bills, Rebecca Pitts, Grayson Pitts, Josephine May, Ethan Pitts, Bryce May, Lilah May, and Aiden Pitts; step-grandchildren, Stephanie Myers Donn and Ross Myers; great-grandchildren, Chance and Cole Hoggarth; sister, Ruth Morris (Jimmy); nephews, Brian Morris, Keith Morris, Gary Morris, and Mark Morris; and his loyal dog, “Gibbs”.
LaVelle loved the Lord, his family, his friends and served the community. He had a heart for those that had little or couldn’t defend themselves, he was a quiet leader, and one of the wisest people we knew. He was a master storyteller, loved passing along his words of wisdom under the guise of lessons learned in crime fighting, farm living, being a preacher’s son and a Marine. He would help anyone in need, regardless their race, income or situations in life. He spent his entire life protecting and serving the public even if it meant sacrificing his own. He took pride in his family and in last conversations, he made sure everyone knew how much they were loved – God’s last gift before taking him to his Heavenly home. He loved God, his family, his country and will be missed.
LaVelle was a graduate of Bay High class of 1953 and served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean conflict where he ranked as a Master Marksman on the Rifle and Pistol Team. He attended college in Mississippi on a football scholarship, and also attended Gulf Coast Community College. His law enforcement career began in 1957 with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office where he progressed from Jailor to the Chief Criminal Investigator. He accepted the Chief of Police position of Springfield in 1963. Expanding his experience, he worked as State Deputy Fire Marshal, then as Special Agent for the Florida Sheriff’s Bureau. In 1967, the Governor appointed him Interim Sheriff of Jefferson County, and later moved to Leon County to serve as Chief of Detectives. In 1973, he became the Major in charge of the statewide anti-smuggling operations with the Florida Marine Patrol. Sheriff Pitts was elected as Sheriff of Bay County in 1980. One of his pet projects at BCSO was PROJECT 25-a program in which Sheriff’s office employees take toys to needy children at Christmas time. He also started many other projects that included Neighborhood Crime Watch, Crimestoppers, Safe House, the SWAT team, and the Special Investigation Unit. He retired from the BCSO in 1989. He then started LaVelle Pitts Investigations where he continued to work as a private investigator for over 30 years. He supported and served his community through his volunteer work with Springfield Methodist Mission House and First Baptist Faith Team. In 2016, LaVelle published ‘Umbrella’s Make Poor Parachutes‘, his life story.