The Apostle Peter wrote a letter, found in the New Testament of the Bible, extolling believers to take care of the needs of others. He wrote in 1 Peter 4:10, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
One local family has fulfilled that mission wholeheartedly.
“All of us would agree that our calling is service to God, service to our country, service to our community,” said Capt. Todd Hutchens, Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO).
Todd is the middle son of Robert Edward Hutchens Jr. and Carol Fuller Hutchens and has been with the BCSO since March of 1993. Older brother Col. Robert Edward “Bob” Hutchens III (Ret.) and wife Allison live in Callahan, Florida. Col. Bob retired with just over 22 years of service in the United States Air Force and now works with the city of Jacksonville.
The youngest Hutchens son, Lt. Scott Hutchens and wife Jennifer live in Statesboro, and Scott has worked for the Statesboro Police Department since 1991.
The three Hutchens brothers chose a life of service to others, modeled after their dad and grandfathers.
“We grew up in a structured, close family,” said Todd. “We were taught from home to honor and serve God first and foremost and to serve others. We were in church every time the doors were opened. VBS, summer camps, youth choir, Sunday services. We learned early the importance of serving others. What we do, all of us, this is the Lord’s work. We’re doing what God wants us to do.”
Scott added, “We’ve enjoyed our careers. It’s how we were taught at home. We give our credit to Mom and Dad and to the Lord.”
Dad Robert Edward Hutchens Jr. spent 30 years in the Army, serving in Vietnam, among other duty stations. After retirement, the patriarch of the family worked as a bailiff for 18 years before retiring in 2018. Fourteen of those years were at the Bulloch County Courthouse after moving here to be near Todd’s and Scott’s families. He also had a career with Firestone in addition to retiring from the military.
Bob said that he was influenced partly by his dad, who served in the Navy during World War II.
“That’s all I ever enjoyed doing,” said Bob. He remarked that like most fathers of those days, his dad didn’t talk much about his military and war experiences, but that mindset of serving his country had a profound impact on him, and he spent five years in the ROTC program before joining the Army.
“Servant” certainly describes those in the Hutchens family tree, but the word “humble” can also be attached to their name.
“It’s not about us,” said Bob. “It’s all about God.”
He did enjoy boasting about his family, however, and said, “We couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Their careers deserve a bit of boasting, though, with the sheer number of hours devoted to serving others and the sacrifices made to accomplish those tasks.
Robert Jr. spent much time away from his family while serving in the military, leaving his wife, Carol, with 2-year-old and 3-month-old sons when he left for Vietnam.
“Our mom certainly served, too,” added Scott, and his dad agreed with him, commenting that he couldn’t have performed his duties without the love, support and encouragement of his wife. Carol, too, knew of the sacrifices of the military, as her dad had served with the Army during World War II.
Carol Hutchens, who has the same servant’s-heart pattern as the others, was honored with a Georgia Commendation Medal by the Battalion Commander in their former home of Albany, Georgia for her service during the aftermath of floods in that area.
Following in the footsteps of his dad and two grandfathers, the oldest Hutchens son was commissioned in the United States Air Force, after graduating from Georgia Tech on an Air Force ROTC Scholarship. Bob was stationed in a number of places, including Patrick Air Force Base Florida, South Carolina, Colorado Springs, Germany, Alabama, the Pentagon, South Korea and Tampa.
Many of those occasions, including tours in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan during wartime situations, were spent away from family for months, and sometimes years, at a time.
Bob said that his career choice was influenced by family history. “It goes back to admiring what my dad and mom did while my dad served. Seeing what he was doing as an Army guardsman, knowing my grandfathers had served, and an uncle who was a Marine. I was always infatuated with airplanes and I loved being around military stuff.”
Bob said that receiving the ROTC scholarship solidified his decision and career choice. “I felt like that was the Lord saying, ‘That’s where I need you to go and what I need you to do.’”
Though stretched years apart, oldest son and father have a lot in common with their military time. Both men attended airborne training school and became paratroopers. When Bob completed school, his dad pinned on his wings, almost 40 years to the month later.
“It was a great feeling to be jumping out of planes like my dad did back in the day,” he said.
Both men also share another commonality.
“I remember as a kid looking at pictures of my mom and dad standing with the Air Force Chief of the Chaplains, and my mom is holding Todd and I’m holding my dad’s hand,” said Bob. “A two-star general had just pinned the Bronze Star Medal on my dad. When I was in Iraq, I earned a Bronze Star, too.”
Bob’s wife, Allison, shares a military connection, and has worked over 20 years as a government civilian supporting the Special Operations Forces, the Air Force and the Navy. Bob and Allison have also been blessed academically, both earning master’s degrees.
Bob said that aside from being away from family members, he never had any regrets about the sacrifices he made, but humbly added, “My family, my brothers’ families, we’re representatives of so many others and we’re glad to serve and continue to serve.”
In fact, Bob and Allison’s children serve in their own ways. Son Bo, a Navy civilian supporting sailors and marines at Kings Bay Submarine Base in Kingsland is a deacon, and his wife Trudy leads the children’s programs in their church. Similarly, daughter Keri and her husband, Joe, live in Daytona Beach and are active in a variety of ways at their church. Keri also serves as a medical technician and a youth dance teacher, and Joe is a high school baseball coach.
Both local Hutchens’ wives serve their community through the school system. Employed with Bulloch County Board of Education since 2001, Sheila, wife of Todd, is currently the bookkeeper for Sallie Zetterower Elementary School.
Scott’s wife, Jennifer, has been teaching at Brooklet Elementary School since 2000 and was honored as Teacher of the Year for BES in 2015. Children Hope, a Georgia Southern University freshman, and Kody, a Southeast Bulloch High School sophomore, round out the family. Scott spoke of the admiration he has for his job with the Statesboro Police Department. He said he often visited his brother, Todd, at Georgia Southern, and he too chose to come to Georgia Southern to get a BS degree in Criminal Justice, following an AS in Justice Studies from Darton College in Albany. Scott began his career with SPD in 1991 and rose in the ranks to his current position as Administrative Lieutenant. He also worked for a year as a Law Enforcement Liaison, a part-time position concurrent with the full-time position, through the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for the Southeastern Region of Georgia.
From 2008-11 while still employed with Statesboro Police Department, Scott attended the Georgia Law Enforcement Professional Management Program and the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police Command College through Columbus State University and graduated with a master’s degree in Public Administration.
With nothing but positive words about his job, Scott said that his family and his brother’s family make huge sacrifices in support of their law enforcement careers.
“We’re in and out of the house during all hours of the day and night to help cover weather related emergencies and cases. Sometimes we’re gone for a day or two depending on the circumstances,” he said.
Todd, who received a degree from Georgia Southern in Criminal Justice, made Statesboro his permanent home after college when he began his career with the Division of Family and Children Services (DFACS) as a social service specialist. After several years there, he joined the sheriff’s department as a uniformed road deputy, later promoted to investigator covering everything from murder to theft and later promoted to Chief Investigator/Captain.
Todd had the honor of attending the prestigious law enforcement training at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia with 250 high-ranking officials from all over the world. He said he remains in contact with many of the former classmates, now work resources, all around the world.
Not surprisingly, both of Todd and Sheila’s children have devoted their lives to one of service.
Chase Hutchens graduated from the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Garden City in 2017 and was immediately recruited to work with Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office as a road deputy for 18 months before joining the Ludowici Police Department as a K-9 road officer.
“Growing up around law enforcement, I was always interested in the field, and I did a lot of ride-alongs as a teenager,” said Chase. “I came in contact with a lot of people and loved the work.”
Chase said he wanted to do something just a little different than his dad and Uncle Scott and that he’d always loved and been around dogs. When he got the chance to move to the Ludowici Police Department as a K-9 officer, he jumped at the opportunity.
“I’ve love working narcotics and to have a dog that works narcotics with you is great,” he said.
Chase’s newest ride-along companion is Harlee, an almost-9-month-old Dutch and Belgian Malinois puppy. Harlee belongs to Chase and he begins actively training her soon.
“To be able to do my job and get some of these guys out there get back on the straight and narrow path, that’s rewarding,” said Chase. “Putting God first, that’s most important. Being able to spread the word out here on the streets is something I enjoy. And you get to spread the word of God more than you think with this job.”
Chase’s sister, Summer, concurred with the rest of the Hutchens family members about the value of serving others.
“Brought up in a community service family and working in community service with my church made me want to do something in the medical field,” said Summer. “It makes me happy when I serve others. Our family has never done anything for recognition – we just have a servant’s heart, and it’s what we enjoy.”
Summer just completed her EMS professions diploma with Embedded EMT and AEMT certificates from Ogeechee Technical College. With plans for additional training, she added, “I’m just trying to figure out where this will lead me.”
One thing’s for sure – if history repeats itself – her path will lead her into one that serves others.
The Hutchens family tree, with branches extending in various career choices and communities, is certainly a family that is rooted in serving others. God, country, community and family. That’s quite a legacy.