Former Nassau Co. Sheriff Geiger dies at age 81

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Kathie Colgrove / Community Newspapers Inc.

Former Nassau County Sheriff W.R. “Ray” Geiger, 81, died June 29 after an extended illness. 

The longtime law enforcement officer was elected sheriff in 1992. 

He served three terms before quitting the race in 2004 to endorse Tommy Seagraves, who was sheriff from 2005-12.

Callahan resident Hugh Graham worked with Geiger when they were officers with the city of Jacksonville Police Department before the city government consolidated with Duval County’s government in 1968.

“Even then he was a fine Christian man,” Graham said. “He was all about his family. We got in some tough spots there. It was not an easy job. We looked out for each other so that we could make it home to our families.” 

After leaving Northeast Florida for other career opportunities, Graham stayed in contact with Geiger and his family. The two men became neighbors when Graham moved to Callahan with his family in the mid-1980s.

“He was a great friend,” he said. “I loved him like a brother. We both seemed to fit very well.” 

Sheriff Bill Leeper fondly recalled Geiger’s influence on the community.

“Sheriff Geiger served the citizens of Nassau County for 12 years as sheriff with honor and distinction,” he said. “I certainly valued his friendship and he always had kind words to say. You wouldn’t have to talk to him very long before you knew he loved the Lord. He loved his family. And he loved being sheriff. He will be missed.”

Cousin Bill Quaile spoke of the closeness the two shared growing up in western Nassau. The two men were also big Florida Gator fans. 

“Ray lived a very fruitful life,” he said. “He was a Christian and helped a lot of people. He’s like a brother to me.”

Quaile said he visited Geiger regularly, bringing him meals and spending time together. He last spoke to him Sunday. 

“He always was in good humor,” Quaile said. “We would cut the fool right to the end. He was suffering and now he’s in a better place. He’s no longer suffering.” 

Geiger leaves behind wife Elizabeth Anne, five daughters, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The couple would have celebrated their 60th anniversary later in 2020, according to Quaile.

Services were held Monday at First Baptist Church in Fernandina Beach and Geiger was laid to rest at Jones Cemetery in Callahan. To sign the family’s guest book, go to Nassau Funeral Home at www.nassaufh.com.