Corrections officer ‘gave his whole life to protecting and serving’

Sgt. Curtis Billue was an early riser, an adventurer and an outdoors man. He was a family man and a man of faith and the “ultimate professional” during his career.

Most of all, he was a hero.

Friends, family and colleagues reflected during funeral services Saturday on the many ways the Milledgeville man touched their lives.

Billue, 58, served in the military for 11 years and had been an officer with the Georgia Department of Corrections for the past 10 years. He and Sgt. Chris Monica, 42, were killed Tuesday morning while transporting prisoners on Ga. 16 near Eatonton.

Inmates Ricky Dubose and Donnie Rowe are accused of shooting the officers to death after making it through the bus barrier and overpowering them. The inmates were arrested Thursday in Tennessee after a three-day run and will be returned to Georgia to face murder charges.

“We know he served in many roles, but hero comes to mind,” Department of Corrections Commissioner Greg Dozier said. “Curtis Billue gave his whole life to protecting and serving others.”

The service was held in the auditorium of Billue’s alma mater, Wilkinson County High School, in McIntyre. He went to college at Fort Valley State University and Clark University.

In attendance were hundreds of law enforcement officers — including from the Department of Corrections, Georgia State Patrol and area sheriff’s offices and police departments — as well as members of the military, state and local representatives, other government officials and community members.

“He gave it all to the Georgia Department of Corrections, and he will be truly, truly missed,” said Regina Womble, Baldwin State Prison deputy warden.

Georgia State Patrol trooper Dan Bray played bagpipes as he led family members into the auditorium, as corrections department workers and military officers lined the floor. Mount Tilla Church Mass Choir sang three songs during the service.

Guests rose several times to give standing ovations for Billue and held hands during prayer. Some corrections officers stretched their arms across the aisles to reach their colleagues.

By giving his life, Billue may have saved other officers, Pastor Harold Banks said. He said Billue would want his loved ones to forgive the men that committed these “atrocious acts.”

Bruce Billue said his brother was devoted to serving others and never hesitated to reach out to help someone in need.

“Curtis’ heart was engraved with service. He took all these positions and tried to excel and make life better for others,” Bruce Billue said. “We will miss you, love you beyond words.”

Billue was laid to rest at Red Level Cemetery in Irwinton after a procession of dozens of emergency vehicles, motorcycles and civilian cars.

Among Billue’s survivors are his former wife, Sheryln Hadley; two sons, Curtis Billue Jr. and Michael Billue; and father, Revon Billue. His mother, Florine Billue, preceded him in death.

The funeral for Monica will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Heritage Memorial Park in Milledgeville, followed by burial at First United Methodist Church. Visitation will be 5-7 p.m. Monday at Williams Funeral in Milledgeville.

Andrea Honaker: 478-744-4382, @TelegraphAndrea