BY KEN LITTLE
AND KRISTEN BUCKLES
Retired Greeneville Police Department Capt. Bobby Blue, 66, who played an important role in local law enforcement and African-American historical matters, died early Tuesday.
Blue was the first African-American to achieve the rank of patrol captain on the Greeneville police force and was also active within the community in other roles.
A passionate historian, he was a member of the Greene County Heritage Trust and the African-American History Roundtable.
He was very knowledgeable concerning local black history, and spoke often of his own days attending George Clem School prior to integration of the local public schools in the mid-1960s.
SPECIAL AWARD IN 2009
Blue received a Special Award of Merit from the Heritage Trust in 2009 "for his outstanding work in reclaiming the Midway Cemetery, located on land donated in 1892 for use as a church, school and cemetery for 'colored people.'"
The next year, Blue received the Rev. C.C. Mills Sr. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 2010 Dream Achiever Award for his accomplishments within his chosen career.
The awards are presented by Friendship Baptist Church in memory and honor of the late Rev. Mills, who died in 1993.
The Rev. Cecil Mills Jr., who presented the award, said at the ceremony that "law enforcement in Greene County will never be the same because of Capt. Blue."
Mills is pastor of Friendship Baptist Church and is also an assistant district attorney general with the Third Judicial Circuit.
'A BRAVE MAN'
Greeneville Chief of Police Terry Cannon and Assistant Chief Craig Fillers recalled Capt. Blue today with respect and affection.
Blue began his career with the Greeneville police force as a patrolman in 1974, and retired in 2005 as a captain.
Cannon served with Blue for many years. Cannon joined the Greeneville police department about two years after Blue, and the two men answered many calls together.
"He loved being a police officer," Cannon said. "I've been in a lot of tight situations with him when I didn't know if we would make it or not. He was a brave man."
Blue "loved his family first and his job next," Cannon said.
STRONG COMMUNITY LINK
A Greeneville native, Blue was the second African-American to serve on the police force, Cannon said.
"He was always a strong link between the police department and the black community," Cannon said. "He always had a heart of gold."
Blue enjoyed police work, and his enthusiasm about the job was infectious, the chief said.
"He was fun to be around, and he made everybody else enjoy it," Cannon said. "He was a very personable man. He would work with you in every aspect of police work and once it came time to get serious, it got serious."
'A DEAR FRIEND'
Both Cannon and Fillers said that Blue's passing is like losing a family member.
He retired from the police department in 2005 because of health reasons, but remained active in the community.
"Bobby was a dear friend. It hurts to lose him," Fillers said. "I've stayed in contact with Bobby, and I've visited with him since he's been ill. He was like family."
Blue served as a patrol officer, sergeant and as a K-9 sergeant before becoming a captain.
"He dedicated a big part of his life to the Town of Greeneville and the department," Fillers said.
Like Cannon, Fillers served on the police force with Blue for many years.
"With Bobby, it's kind of emotional for me. He was family," he said.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete and will be announced at a later date by Jeffers Funeral and Cremation Service.
There will be a strong law enforcement presence at Blue's memorial service when it is held, Cannon said.