Ronnie Metcalfe, president and general manager of Radio Greeneville and a long-time community leader, died Friday from complications of COVID-19.
In addition to more than 50 years in the radio industry, Metcalfe served as captain of the Greeneville Emergency & Rescue Squad, as president of the Greene County Fair Association and was currently serving as the foreman of the Greene County Grand Jury.
Greeneville Mayor W.T. Daniels said that he and his family were saddened to hear of Metcalfe’s passing.
“We grew up together, and he was a very dear friend of mine,” Daniels said. “It is a sad moment for me personally and my family. It is also a sad day for our community because Ronnie was so involved and had a lot to do with the success of our community.”
“Ronnie was a very, very good person,” he continued. “He will be missed.”
Daniels noted that Metcalfe was also a fellow veteran, having served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Metcalfe worked in the radio business for more than 50 years, becoming the general manager of Radio Greeneville, WGRV-WIKQ-WSMG, after the retirement of his father, Paul O. Metcalfe, in 1986.
Nathan Humbard, music director and production director for the three stations, recalled that Metcalfe hired him at the age of 18. Humbard had finished his first year of college as a computer science major and discovered that it was not a career he wanted to pursue.
Humbard’s father called Metcalfe to see if there was any spot for him as a weekend part-timer to see if he had an interest in broadcasting.
“It took me one day to know that this is what I wanted to do, and I never looked back,” he continued. “From day one, Ronnie and his family treated me and all my co-workers as their family. For 40 years I have had job security, a pleasant place to work to do what I love and the best people to work for, and to work with, that anyone could hope for. These are the gifts that Ronnie gave me by giving someone with no experience a chance, and I am forever grateful.”
A lifetime member of the Greeneville Emergency & Rescue Squad, Metcalfe served as captain for 10 terms.
Tom Paxton, another lifetime member of the Rescue Squad, said Metcalfe was his mentor in the volunteer emergency agency.
“It was an honor to serve with him and work with him,” Paxton said.
Metcalfe was a strong leader and remained dedicated to the Rescue Squad and the community, he said.
“His dad and my dad were in the Rescue Squad together as well so that was also a bond between us, and our families went to church together growing up,” Paxton continued. “I am really going to miss him.”
Long-time first responder Marty Shelton recalled that Metcalfe was one of his instructors when he first joined the Rescue Squad as a volunteer. “He was always a good ‘go to’ person,” he said. “He was very well liked by everyone.”
Responding to emergency scenes in their respective positions was how retired law enforcement officer Lloyd “Hoot” Bowers said he got to know Metcalfe after he began his career at the Greene County Sheriff’s Department.
“Ronnie was one of the finest gentlemen I have ever known,” he said. “They just don’t make them any better than that man.”
Metcalfe was also a member of the Greene County Fair Association for 25 years and was its president for 10 years.
Rick Clark, current president of the Fair Association, said that Metcalfe worked with the fair for about 40 years, holding various offices.
“He will be sorely missed by the Fair Association,” he said. “His service to us has been tremendous over the years.”
Although Metcalfe left the board in 2005, he continued to work with the fair, Clark said.
“He still helped, advised us and would do whatever he could to support the fair,” he continued.
At the time of his death, Metcalfe was serving as the foreman of the grand jury, a post in which he would have marked his 30th anniversary this year.
“I have known the Metcalfe family my whole life and my son and his grandson are about the same age,” said Circuit Court Clerk Chris Shepard. “They are a great family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family from the Clerk’s Office.”
Greeneville Police Chief Tim Ward said that he took many cases in front of Metcalfe in his duties as foreman of the grand jury.
“He was such an integral part of this community network of public service,” he said. “It is amazing the things that he helped do in the community. This is a huge loss.”
Ward also recalled Metcalfe’s friendly nature and that he “almost always had a smile on his face.”
Metcalfe had also served as a member of the Greeneville Civil Service Board and was a former Greene County Coroner.