Bobby was a Hometown Hero. He was a veteran who served our country. He also loved and served our community for many years. He was the Pastor of First Methodist Church and then after retirement served as the chaplain of our local hospital. I am thankful to have known and worked beside Bobby Ely. I have served as a volunteer chaplain with him at Sevier Medical Center and then more recently at LeConte Medical Center. His personality transcended any typical stereotype of a minister or a chaplain. He made you feel you like you were just part of his family regardless of your background or where you attended church. His grin, chuckle and his quick sense of humor always put a smile of your face. He had that same effect on hospital staff, volunteers, and patients.
In our ever changing and busy world, he was a steady and consistent source of comfort and encouragement to many, always there for us day in and day out. He and his wife Barbara have made our community so much stronger. Their love and commitment to our community is woven deeply into the fabric of our lives.
Bobby didn’t want praise and admiration from others but he earned by doing whatever he could, the right way, and with a smile. A hero isn’t always someone who does one courageous act, but often times it is someone who gets in the trenches of life and helps pick you back up on your feet. That is why for me and many others, Bobby Ely will always be a hometown hero.