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Roberson, Brookhaven’s first black officer, dies of cancer

Brookhaven lost a part of its history Tuesday with the death ofa citizen whose friends and colleagues say will be sorelymissed.

Irvin Roberson, Brookhaven’s first black police officer, diedTuesday at his residence from complications of cancer, LincolnCounty Coroner Clay McMorris said Wednesday.

Roberson, 73, joined the police force in 1964 and was the onlyofficer to ever wear the badge number “B4,” which was retired afterhe left the force in 1994. He was also instrumental, along with hiscolleague Willie “Doc” Harrison, in training current Police ChiefPap Henderson.

“He was a great man, not only that, but he was also a great lawenforcement officer,” Henderson said. “He really helped me when Ifirst started off, and I give him a large part of the credit forwhere I am now.”

Roberson, who was named The DAILY LEADER’s Citizen of the Year in2007, was known not only for his compassion and heart for otherpeople, but also for having a faith and love for God that he wasunafraid to share with the world.

“He was a dedicated man, a great officer and a family man,”Henderson said. “He was also a very God-centered man, and you couldsee that in his life.”

When Roberson retired from the police force, he went to work as abailiff in the Lincoln County Circuit and Chancery Court two weeksafter his retirement.

Circuit Court Judge Mike Taylor also remembered Roberson for hisconstant care for other people.

“Whatever Irvin was doing, he was helping other people,” Taylorsaid. “He spent his life helping others. As a bailiff in court andyouth court, he took the opportunities he was presented with tomentor those children and share his faith.”

Roberson also served in the Army as a young man, where he startedoff as a loader on an M48 tank. When he was found to be too tallfor the job, he was assigned to Fort Riley, Kan., as a cook. Thattraining would later become an integral part in his personalministry.

“He always brought pies and cakes to court functions and thingslike that and when I was sworn in, Irvin presented me with a pie,”Taylor said. “He always had a dessert for every occasion, and heenjoyed sharing those things with other people.”

Henderson said in the law enforcement circles, Roberson will alwaysbe remembered for the brave and caring person he was.

“He’ll be deeply missed, that’s for sure,” he said.

Taylor, like Henderson, said Roberson’s passing has left a hole inthe world that will not soon be filled.

“He was devoted to his family and his church and to the community,”he said. “Brookhaven’s lost a great man and it’ll take more thanone person to fill all the roles Irvin filled and do all the jobshe did.”

Roberson’s funeral arrangements are being handled by RobersonFuneral Home, which is owned by his son Kenneth Roberson, inPontotoc. His funeral will be Saturday at St. James MissionaryBaptist Church in Brookhaven. Visitation is from 2 to 7 p.m.Thursday in Pontotoc and from 1:30 to 7 p.m. Friday at St. JamesChurch in Brookhaven.