By Thomas Sellers Jr.
GERMANTOWN — The late Deputy Rupert Peete’s family was on hand for a special dedication last Thursday on a half-mile stretch of Forest Hill Irene Road.
Peete’s relatives gathered because his even larger family, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies, organized the renaming of a section of the road in Peete’s honor.
“It’s very humbling to experience this situation,” SCSO’s Chip Washington said. “The men and women who do this job put their lives on the line everyday to protect and service the public. Deputy Peete paid the ultimate price. And to see this year’s graduating class didn’t forget him, shows we’re a big family.”
Peete’s widow Mary, his parents Mamie and Rupert Sr. and many other family members attending the unveiling of the marker reading “Deputy Rupert H. Peete Jr. Parkway.” The effort to rename the half-mile portion of the road on the southside of the Germantown City limits near the West Tennessee Veteran’s Cemetery was organized by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Reserve Class No. 129.
Each year the classes are assigned an officer who was killed in the line of duty as a way to keep their memories alive. Class 129 conducted months of research and interviews to learn about Peete from his days in the U.S. Army to joining the Sheriff’s Office on April 1, 1997.
Then the class heard the story of Peete’s passing. On March 8, 2000, Peete was on his way to an unrelated call when a passerby flagged him down warning him there was an armed man at a burning house on the 4200 block of Germantown Road.
Moments later, that armed man emerged from his burning home with a shotgun in hand, and turned it on Peete. The blast struck the 45-year old deputy before he could exit his cruiser. Peete was pronounced dead at the scene. Also killed that day were firefighters William Blakemore and Javier Lerma.
So May 9, 2013 brought Peete’s colleagues together with members of the Shelby County Fire Department, Memphis Police Department, Oakland Police Department and other agencies to celebrate the occasion and Peete’s years of service.
“This is so wonderful,” Mary said. “It’s nice to know his memory will live forever. Thank you all for doing this for him.”
The emotion of the moment overwhelmed Rupert Peete Sr. as he tried to address those gathered. But the senior Peete wanted to express his gratitude to all those who made it possible for motorist to ride on the stretch of Deputy Rupert H. Peete Parkway in the future.
“We’re all very grateful to Deputy Peete,” Washington concluded. “We are also grateful to the Class for wanting to honor him. This is a family thing and we want his family to know that although he’s gone, Deputy Peete will never be forgotten.”
The SCSO Reserve Recruit Class 129 are Phillip Andrews, Karen Chase, Fhilipae Cherry, Samuel Draper, Jason Earnest, John Ford, Ernest Gillespie, Tom Hansom, Justin Headley, Steve Herring, Joshua Hicks, Floyd Hubbard, Lennor Jones, Phillip Loden, Jake Miller, Bren Olswanger, Hunter Queen, Kurt Roller, Cedric Smith, Joedy Vongphrachanh and Adam Williams. Class counselor was Officer Jeff Howeth.
Participating in the ceremony were Recruit Ernest Gillespie, Recruit Tom Hansom, memories by Recruit Adam Williams, and closing by SCSO Sheriff Bill Oldham.