William Earnest “Earnie” Blackley, the sheriff of Izard County, passed away Saturday after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was six days shy of his 59th birthday. Blackley served as Chief Deputy under former Izard County Sheriff Tate Lawrence and was serving his first term as sheriff.
William Earnest “Earnie” Blackley, son of Billy Earl Blackley and Jo Ann Shepherd, was born Jan. 10, 1961, in Greenville, Miss. He departed this life Jan. 4, 2020, at his home in Sage, Ark. at the age of 58 years, 11 months and 25 days. He was united in marriage to Theresa Ruch Jan. 24, 1993, in Lake Village, Arkansas. Earnie died of cancer just one year and four days after he took the position of Izard County Sheriff. Earnie joined the Izard County Sheriff’s office as a deputy in 1993, having previously worked as a police officer in Greenville, Mississippi. After serving 18 years as chief deputy, he was elected sheriff. In addition to his work at the Izard County Sheriff’s Office, Earnie was known for the fish fries he held for various benefits. He was of the Baptist faith and a member of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Zion.
Earnie is survived by his wife of 26 years: Theresa Blackley of the home; three children: William Earnest Blackley, Jr of Melbourne; Bridgette Woodall and husband Ty of Melbourne; and Shane Farmer and wife Kendra of Zion; his parents: Jo Ann Shepherd of Zion and Billy Blackley and wife Judy of Franklinton, N.C.; one brother: Horace Irvin Blackley and wife Robin of Grenada, Miss.; seven grandchildren: Kaylee Woodall, Nathan Woodall, Madison Woodall, Lucas Farmer, Lainey Woodall, Ellie Farmer, and Ella Farmer; his Izard County Sheriff’s Office family; and a host of other relatives and many good friends. He was preceded in death by one sister: Stephanie Lynn Sharp and his maternal grandparents: Oscar L. Shepherd, Sr. and Sarah Iris Stockstill Shepherd.
The visitation and funeral service will be held at the First Baptist Church in Melbourne. Visitation will be Tuesday, Jan. 7, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The funeral service will be Wednesday, Jan. 8, at 2 p.m. with Rick Burke and Gale Johnson officiating. Burial will be at Antioch Cemetery with arrangements by Eddie’s Family Funeral Home of Melbourne.
Memorials may be made to: Earnie Blackley Scholarship Fund, C/O First National Banking Company, P.O. Box 549, Melbourne, AR 72556.
Pallbearers: Douglas Brooks, Gerald Cooper, Jack Yancey, Charlie Melton, Kevin Tate and Warren Sanders.
Honorary Pallbeaers: All Law Enforcement Personnel, Jerry O’Brien, Shane Linn, David Miller, Tim Weaver, Gray Dellinger, Fred Lamb, Dean Hutchins, Bob Barnes, Clint Bailey, Richard Downing, Raybourne Finley, Johnny Rogers.