Former Blowing Rock police chief dies
James Owen Tolbert, 65, of Sumpter Cabin Creek Road, Blowing Rock, died at the Watauga Medical Center.
Tolbert retired from the Blowing Rock Police Department as chief of police in 2006.
He was also a United States Air Force veteran.
“Owen was always so wonderful to the historical society,” said Ginny Stevens, with the Blowing Rock Historical Society.
“He would coordinate the traffic flow for anything we wanted to do. He was a wonderful guy and a true community citizen. They hired him to stop all the robberies in the winter, and he was such a nice guy that I had doubts that he could stop the bad guys. But he turned out to be terribly competent at this job. We were all sad to see him go,” Stevens said.
Tolbert was born March 21, 1947, in Watauga County, the son of the late Langston Owen and Irene Hartley Tolbert.
He is survived by his wife, Judi Payne Tolbert; one daughter, Michelle Tolbert Helton and husband, Iain, of Blowing Rock; a daughter-in-law, Melanie Tolbert of Macon, Ga.; three grandchildren, Graham Helton, Parker Tolbert and Megan Helton; one brother, Donald Tolbert and wife, Janice, of Blowing Rock; four sisters, Dorothy Price of Blowing Rock, Louise Hood of Richmond, Va., Mary “Polly” Dacus of Leominster, Mass., and Shirley Edmisten and husband, Baxter, of Blowing Rock; three sisters-in-law, Verleen Greene of Lenoir, Jean Clontz of Boone, and Joyce Payne of Mt. Airy; three brothers-in-law, Claude Harmon of Lexington, Arlan Ford of Lenoir and H. T. Rogers of Boone, and a host of nieces and nephews.
Services will be conducted at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the First Baptist Church of Blowing Rock. Officiating will be the Revs. David Lunceford, Max West and Gordon Noble. Burial will follow at Woodlawn Cemetery in Blowing Rock.
The family will receive friends prior to the service from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church. The family respectfully requests no food.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to a scholarship fund for the grandchildren, in care of High Country Bank, 149 Jefferson Road, Boone, NC 28607, or to High Country Health Care System Hospice, 400 Shadowline Drive, Suite 100-B, Boone, NC 28607.
Online condolences may be shared at austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com. Austin & Barnes Funeral Home is serving the Tolbert family.