Longtime leader laid to rest

Published 7:56 am Friday, July 31, 2009

FRANKLIN—Hundreds of mourners gathered at Apostolic Faith Church of God Wednesday to celebrate the life of community leader William H. Blue Sr., who died Thursday at the age of 90.

Known affectionately as “Mr. Blue” or “Pop Blue,” he marched for equal rights, headed the Franklin chapter of the NAACP for 42 years and was a deacon at New Mount Zion Baptist Church.

Local dignitaries who spoke at the funeral were Mayor Jim Councill, Franklin Police Chief Phil Hardison, Southampton County Circuit Court Clerk Rick Francis and Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Cooke.

“He had a smile as wide as the Grand Canyon, and I loved to hear him laugh,” Hardison said. “He was truly a role model for all of us.”

The chief spoke of Blue’s tireless work on behalf of his city.

“I don’t think the man ever wasted a single moment,” he said.

Besides his work for the NAACP, Blue was a little league baseball coach and Boy Scout master for 23 years.

“He gave so freely of his time and his advice. He brings to light what one man can do in a community and in this world,” Cooke said.

Blue was one of the founding members of the Franklin Community Choir. He was president of union AFL-CIO for 23 years and served as Masonic Lodge Master three times for Franklin Star 28 with 52 years as a member.

Local leaders credit him as being the visionary for the Martin Luther King Center.

“A lot of people loved him,” said the Rev. Keith Rose, who officiated the funeral. “He was such a great icon in this community.”

Survivors include his children, Dorothy Montague and Lionel and his wife, Gwen Blue, of Franklin.