Former city Police Chief Harry Nave passes away

By Abby Morris
Star Staff

   A former Chief of Police for the City of Elizabethton and well respected man in the community, Harry Nave, passed away Friday at a local hospital.
   "He will be greatly missed," said current Elizabethton Police Department Chief Roger Deal, who is married to Nave's niece.
   In December of 1965, Nave left work at Pet Dairy to join the Elizabethton Police Department. Eight years later, in December of 1973, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and three years after that in 1976 he was promoted to chief of police. He served the City of Elizabethton in that role until he retired in April of 1989, which ended his 24-year career in law enforcement.
   Deal joined the police force in 1977, when Nave hired him as an officer. "Chief Nave was a very likable but firm leader. He was good to his officers and he respected them," Deal remembered. "I know Harry had a lot of friends here that he came up through the ranks with that thought a lot of him and he thought a lot of them."
   When thinking about Nave's time as chief of police, Deal noted Nave's sense of humor and his love for practical jokes. "Harry would really get a kick out of that," he said. "Harry loved to laugh and loved to make people laugh."
   Flags were lowered to half-staff at City Hall and the city police and fire departments on Friday in honor of Nave. City Manager Charles Stahl that while he did not have the pleasure of working with Nave, he became acquainted with the former chief after he came to Elizabethton as city manager. Stahl said Nave ushered the department into the modern era of crime fighting with better equipment.
   "He was chief when a lot of new technology was coming into being," said Stahl. "I give him a lot of credit for his role in the development of the modern police department in Elizabethton."
   Nave was dedicated to his police force. "The first law enforcement grants I had ever heard of he used to get two cars for us," Deal said. "Back then we only had five patrol cars and everybody used them."
   Nave used the grant money in 1979 to purchase two new 440 Plymouths for the department to use as patrol cars. "Us younger guys at the time really enjoyed driving those cars because they were souped up," Deal recalled as he laughed.
   Deal also remembers how different police work was during his time as an officer under Chief Nave is from police work now that he is Chief. "Things were simpler back then. The morality of the world has changed," he said. "We had crime but not in the volume we do today. Back then if you got what we consider a 'nickel bag' of marijuana it was a big case."
   According to Deal, not only was Nave easy to work for but he had a great working relationship with other city officials such as former city managers Robert Asbury and Tom Hord, both of whom worked during Nave's time as Chief, as well as former Mayor Richard Sharpin.
   Nave was active in his church, according to Deal, and was "well thought of" in his community.
   "He was a fair individual," Deal said. "Now he could get after you, and he did me a time or two like he did everyone else, when you needed it. But he would also stand up for you and give you a pat on the back when you did something good."
   Other area law enforcement officers in the area remember Nave as well. "He was a fine man and a fine officer," said Carter County Sheriff John Henson. "He worked for the city and I worked for the county but we had a good working relationship then like I have with Chief Roger Deal now. He was an up-front, straight-forward and honest man. I hate to hear that he's gone."
   (Staff writer Thomas Wilson contributed to this story.)