Euel Thomas Bubba Smith probably wouldnt have been a fan of a ceremony Friday that named the Bibb County school police headquarters after the officer, who was killed while on duty in 1983.
He didnt like flashy stuff, recalled his son, Thomas Smith, who was just 12 years old when his father was killed. It would have been too much. He was just doing his job.
Either way, nearly 20 campus police officers came together with a similar number of family members to honor Smith, who started working as a campus police officer exactly 31 years ago Friday. He served just half a year, until he was shot and killed April 22, 1983, after he confronted a suspicious man wandering the Central High School grounds.
That person, 23-year-old James Lee Patterson, grabbed Smiths .357 Magnum and shot him. Smith died at the hospital. Patterson was convicted of Smiths slaying.
Steve Smith, Bibb Countys interim school superintendent, said hed been chatting with Smith that very morning. Just 20 minutes later, Bubba Smiths life was needlessly taken away.
Hes made our school system a safer place, the interim superintendent said. Weve come a long way since.
Deputy Police Chief Stephanie Prater said her research showed that Bubba Smith was the first campus police officer killed in the line of duty in the country. Prater worked to get the building named after Smith -- and a sign erected at 1065 Anthony Road -- earlier this year. The system didnt hold a formal dedication ceremony until Friday.
After the ceremony, family members toured the headquarters, much of which is painted in a dark police blue. Among those touring, with hesitant steps, was Keith Parker, who at 1 year old is Smiths youngest of eight grandchildren.
He is also survived by three children. His widow died in 2010.
Lee Anne Purvis, one of Smiths sisters, said the family remains tightknit and gets together regularly.
Bubba was a fun person, she recalled. He was a people person. He was a gotta-love-him kind of guy. Everybody knew him. He got around.
Smith was just 35 years old when he died. He was also a veteran of the U.S. Navy and served in Vietnam, and he had worked for the Macon Police Department and the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department.
His death changed the family, Purvis said.
His youngest son has no memory of him at all, she said. That was the day all of our lives changed forever, but his children most of all.
Telegraph archives were used in this report. To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.