‘He was always there’, Dunnavant served 40 years on force

Published 3:18 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Former Farmville Police Chief Stuart O. Dunnavant — who served various law enforcement agencies for over 40 years — died Sunday.

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Dunnavant was 68 years old, according to his obituary.

After graduating from the Piedmont Law Enforcement Academy in 1973, he went to work for the Crewe Police Department.

Dunnavant was hired as a patrol officer for the town in November 1973. He was named sergeant in July 1995 and lieutenant two years later. 

He was named interim police chief in July 1998 and police chief the following November.

He retired in May 2009, citing health issues.

Dunnavant was promoted after former chief Jeff Howard resigned.

“I think everybody made a good choice,” then-Mayor

Sydnor C. Newman said in 1998 of Dunnavant’s promotion to acting chief.

While Farmville’s Police Chief, he served as on the tactical team, the Farmville Volunteer Fire Dept., on the board of directors of the Central Virginia Criminal Justice Academy and the Piedmont Law Enforcement Association.

After retirement from Farmville, he worked part-time with the Buckingham County Sheriff’s Office until his death, according to his obituary.

Town Manager Gerald Spates, who came to Farmville in 1975, said he worked with Dunnavant “pretty much the whole time he was here except for his first two years.”

“Stuart was a great guy to work with. Stuart worked a lot of night shifts when he was a patrolman. I didn’t see him as much.”

He said Dunnavant was a great police officer. “He got along with everybody very well.”

“I’ll always remember Stuart loved to eat. He could eat more than anybody than I’ve ever seen,” Spates said. “Where the average person would eat one plate Stuart would eat two or three.”

Spates said that anytime food was brought to the police department, Dunnavant was on scene.

“I know one thing, you could always depend on him,” retired Farmville Police Sgt. Carl Kelsey said.

Kelsey, who worked for the Farmville Police Department for over 42 years, said he’ll always remember Dunnavant’s tact and expertise during the arrest of a wanted man from another jurisdiction.

“When we arrested one of the most wanted [people] that had killed a few people and took a car from a lady over next to Brookneal, we got a call on it. Lo and behold, the car, Stuart was behind it coming into town,” he said.

Kelsey was working that day. Once the suspect’s vehicle was blocked in, he remained in his vehicle.

Kelsey said Dunnavant shot at the car to see what he would do since he wouldn’t get out.

“I told him ‘Shoot through the car.’ So he shot the glass out and we saw his hands hands come up … That was the most memorable thing that I remember.”

Kelsey said Dunnavant “was always there and always willing to help or fill in for you, whatever.”

“We enjoyed going to work,” he said.

“You could never find [a] more dedicated law enforcement officer anywhere,” said Roger Jamerson, the Captain of the Buckingham County Sheriff’s Office. “He was dedicated to his job and his profession.”

Jamerson had known Dunnavant since 1976. “I knew him when he was a police officer [and] worked with him jointly … with the SWAT teams and tactical teams,” he said.

“Even when he became a chief, he was out there on those SWAT calls with his men always out there at the front of the line. [If] it was going on, he was going to be there. And you couldn’t ask for any better person to be beside you or to have your back.”

A funeral service will be held on Thursday at 11 a.m. in the chapel of Puckett Funeral Home with interment to follow in Trinity Memorial Gardens. Family will receive friends on Wednesday 6-8 p.m. at Puckett Funeral Home.