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Family, community remembers Police Chief Buddy Crabtree who died from COVID-19

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 10:08 PM CDT
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IDER, Ala. (WAFF) -On Monday, family and friends mourned the loss of a man who protected and served his community.

Ider Police Chief Buddy Crabtree lost his battle with COVID-19 on Saturday, October 30.

“He had this thing with nicknames for everybody, and if he knew you and liked you, he had a nickname for you. He got to where in the last couple of years when he would call me, he would say “Madam Mayor, and he knew I didn’t like that name,” said Ider Mayor Wendy Lassetter.

Lassetter recalled memories of Chief Buddy Crabtree.

She said Crabtree never met a stranger and had a unique way of communicating and helping others in the community.

Now, those memories will last a lifetime after Crabtree lost his month-long battle with COVID-19 on Saturday.

“He loved this town and loved the people. He was a part of everything, going on from the school to our churches and businesses. He was a face at every event and interacted with the kids and people, and he was just so loved,” said Mayor Lassetter.

When we spoke to Crabtree’s wife, Kristie, she said that after he passed she began seeing so many stories of how he helped the Ider community and the impact he leaves behind.

“He was a great father, husband and police officer. He loved his job as the Police Chief of Ider. He met a lot of people throughout his years of service and he made a lot of friends along the way. I’ve read a lot of stories on social media about the nice things he did to help others. He cared about children, especially the safety of the kids at Ider school. It was important to him that people did not speed in the school zone. He wanted the kids to know who he was and that he was there for them if needed. He was stubborn and strong-willed. He liked things done a certain way and you knew where he stood,” she said. “This has been a devastating time for our family. We never expected to lose the man who would do anything he could to make us happy and our lives easier.He was not vaccinated. He worked alongside many other first responders from the beginning of COVID-19, way before a vaccine was available. He believed that taking the vaccine should be a choice made by each person, not a mandate. He was admitted to Highlands Medical Center on October 2nd and eventually transferred to CHI Memorial in Chattanooga on October 19th. His battle was long and hard but our God had bigger plans.”

Crabtree served on the force beginning in 2011. He was instrumental in mentoring other officers and lending a hand in the community.

The news of his death sent shock waves throughout the community and on social media.

Crabtree’s son, Kaleb, confirmed to us that his father was not vaccinated. He told us that his father said, “I will take all three if I make it out of this.”

Mayor Lassetter didn’t know Crabtree’s vaccination status when we interviewed her but she still thought getting vaccinated is important.

“Take it seriously. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s your choice to be vaccinated or not, take it seriously. I know finding out early as possible if you have it is important, and it is good to seek treatment, and I know it’s a lot we don’t know about it, but we should still take it seriously,” said Mayor Lassetter.

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