Viewpoint: Sally Walls, Smyrna Trailblazer touched countless Lives in our Community

By Mike Sparks

The Town of Smyrna suffered a great loss with the passing of Sally Brittian Walls. Sally was a trailblazer in every sense of the word. If I’m not mistaken she was the first female assistant police chief in our great state. She was the first female police officer in Smyrna and possibly the entire county and she served on the Smyrna Town Council.

Sally Walls says a few words during the highway dedication honoring her late husband Major James Walls held at the Smyrna Omni Hut as TDOT officials, Senator Dawn White, M’Boro Councilman Eddie Smotherman, Mark Bell, former Sen. Jim Tracy, Harold Grider, Smyrna Vice-Mayor Marc Adkins, and former Smyrna Councilman Rick Wise listen in.

Growing up next door to her and spending much of my childhood at her home I and many others were afforded the opportunity to see her tenacity and can-do attitude, especially when she decided to become a police officer.
I recall her husband the late Major Walls constructing a 6-foot wall so should could practice climbing over it while she was attending the police academy. As a young boy, possibly 10 years of age I watched her tenacity to continue to try and climb that wall. That wall in my mind served as a metaphor to keep climbing even against the odds and never give up.

Smyrna Fire Chief Bill Culbertson writes on Facebook,

“Commissioner Sally Walls thank you for all you did for me, our department, and our community.”

1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?


Photo Credit: Fire Chief Bill Culbertson and The Rutherford Courier

With the odds against her Sally kept on fighting and believing in herself. Although, like all of us she wasn’t perfect, but she was a great example of the American Dream — with a spirit of dogged determination.

Smyrna Police Chief Kevin Arnold and RutherfordCounty Public Defender Gerald Melton attended the road naming event honoring the late Major James F. Walls.

“Sally Walls was a trailblazer and before her time in law enforcement. She understood the value of education and training in police work. She allowed an expanded field training program to begin at the police department that is still used today. Over 60% of the officers at Smyrna Police have college degrees and Sally had a role in that. And she was the first administrator to get officers specialized training” ~ Smyrna Police Chief Kevin Arnold

“So sad with the loss of Sally Walls. I’ve known her most of my life. She will be dearly missed-she was an amazing woman” ~ Rhonda Jessee Russell Hood

“I worked at both the Smyrna Country Club and Smyrna Woodshed with Sally we were  close friends. I remember onetime that a loved one of mine had passed away and I didn’t have the money to attend the funeral. Sally gave me the $100 and I flew out there, that  was the first time I had ever flown on an airplane. I was always grateful for that, I later paid her back” ~ Jane Jessee

Pictured: Christy Jesse, Jane Jessee and Rhonda Jessee, longtime friends of Sally Walls.

“Lost a Friend, a woman with great determination and strong will who left a legacy to our community Will be a shining example to her family and friends rest in peace” ~ Trish Nash

Trish Nash and Rutherford County Clerk Lisa Crowell attended the road naming ceremony honoring the late Major James F. Walls
Pictured: Rutherford County Road Board Member
Keith Bratcher, Rep.Mike Sparks, Rutherford County Commissioner Chantho Sourinho and Jason B. Bour.

“Smyrna lost a real trailblazer with Mrs. Wall’s passing. she had a strong positive impact on Smyrna’s law enforcement” ~ Keith Bratcher

Smyrna Vice-Mayor Marc Adkins speaks about the legacy late Major James F. Walls with former Smyrna Councilman Rick Wise to his left, with Harold Grider and former Senator Jim Tracy on his right.

“Sally and her family have been such an asset to our Smyrna community. Sally defined the word “service”to the Town of Smyrna. We will Miss Sally tremendously. She leaves us with fond memories of care and respect “
Smyrna Vice-Mayor Marc Adkins

Pictured are former Smyrna Councilman Lori North and her husband Stan (The Tennessee Ledger and our vast staff have verified the authenticity that the image is of Stan North, not Santa)

“When Stan and I moved to Smyrna in the mid 80’s, Sally was one of the first people we met. Her brother, Bill (PeeWee), and Stan worked together at Yellow Freight. She gave us the warm Smyrna, TN welcome, as she had a genuine love for people. Sally was a Trailblazer for women in the Town, standing for justice with upmost integrity. She will definitely be missed” ~ Lori North, former Smyrna Councilman

The countless lives that she touched, helping many of us with our first jobs, inviting folks to her dinner table and teaching many life lessons — Sally never forgot where she came from.

Smyrna Mayor Mary Esther Reed says a few words on the road dedication honoring the late Major James F. Walls as Omni Hut owner Polly Walls-Balakhani, Lance Lee, and Rutherford County Chief Deputy Keith Lowery listen in.

My former boss, who was so much more than that, she was a mentor, a friend, and sometimes when she made sure I was taking the right path in my life, and career, she felt like a mom.

Rutherford County Chief Deputy Keith Lowery and wife Cassie

You taught this old cop a great deal about law enforcement, people, and life too when I was just a young rookie.

God bless you, Sally, you made a tremendous difference in so many lives, and I’m so grateful that you were part of mine.

Rest peacefully Chief, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything. I know that you and Jim are smiling together again.

“388 to 363, rest easy Chief, your service on Earth is complete, we will continue to take the watch from here, as you watch over us from Heaven” ~ Chief Deputy Keith Lowery

“I am sad to hear the news of Sally Wall’s passing.  Women such as herself paved the road for others like me to become active in local politics” ~ Melisa Brown, La Vergne Vice-Mayor

Pictured: Melisa Brown graduating from MTSU with the honor of Magna Cum Laude in 2018.


Picture of the former Brittian Barn which was located off Rock Springs Road across from Cedar Grove Road. The Brittian Farm was where Sally Brittian Walls grew up.

Our world could use a few more Sally Walls today. Thank you Sally for the difference you made in this world, the lives you’ve touched — including my own. May you rest in peace…