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Former Blowing Rock Police Chief, James Owen Tolbert Passes Away Friday, Funeral Set For Tuesday

James Owen Tolbert
James Owen Tolbert

Dec. 17, 2012. Former Blowing Rock Police Chief James Owen Tolbert passed away on Friday morning at the Watauga Medical Center at the age of 65.

Of Sumpter Cabin Creek Road in Blowing Rock, Tolbert was born March 21, 1947 in Watauga County. He was a son of the late Langston Owen and Irene Hartley Tolbert. Owen retired from the Blowing Rock Police Department as Chief of Police in 2006 after 24 years of service. He was a United State Air Force Veteran and a member of Bailey’s Camp Baptist Church. Owen was a loving husband, father and grandfather.

Blowing Rock Mayor J.B. Lawrence knew Tolbert for at least 40 years and said he was a top-shelf guy.

“Everybody like Owen. Everybody respected him,” Lawrence said. “He did a great job as the police chief, and he’ll be sorely missed.” 

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, Georgia, 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, Massachusetts, 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 beloved nieces, nephews and friends.

He was preceded in death by his dad and mom; Langston Owen and Irene Hartley Tolbert, a beloved son; James Owen Tolbert, II, one brother; Edward “Buddy” Tolbert two sisters; Mozelle Ford and Edna Harmon, and four brothers in law; Marvin Hood, Kermit Dacus, Byron Clontz and Charlie Price.
Funeral services for Mr. James Owen Tolbert will be conducted Tuesday afternoon at 2 o’clock at the First Baptist Church of Blowing Rock.

Officiating will be Rev. David Lunceford, Rev. Max West and Rev. Gordon Noble. Burial will follow at Woodlawn Cemetery in Blowing Rock. The family will receive friends Tuesday prior to the service from 11 o’clock until 2 o’clock at the 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.

The family wishes a heartfelt thanks to the staff and “Earth Angels” at the Cancer Center and Town of Blowing Rock.

Online condolences may be shared with the Tolbert family at www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com.

Austin & Barnes Funeral Home is serving the Tolbert family.