Pennsylvania state trooper remembered as professional, humble
State Police Trooper 1st Class Blake T. Coble never was one to stand on ceremony, said a colleague at his funeral on Tuesday.
He would be the last one to wear a tie or his trooper hat and hated to shine his boots.
Coble, who died in an Oct. 4 car crash while on duty, likely would have looked at the hundreds of law enforcement officers gathered for his funeral and say: “What a waste of shoe polish,” said Cpl. Mark Bardzil.
“But Blake taught us it is not about the shine on our shoes. It's about the shine on our hearts, and Blake shone brightly,” Bardzil said.
Bardzil had Coble's fellow troopers at the Brighton barracks shed their ties and hats during a portion of the service.
Nearly 1,000 law enforcement officers, family and friends gathered inside the Golden Dome of Community College of Beaver County in Center for a final farewell to Coble.
The 24-year veteran, just three months from retirement, died when a tractor-trailer driven by Gregory Golkosky, 47, of Mt. Pleasant slammed into his cruiser in South Beaver, not far from Coble's house.
Lt. Eric Hermick said Tuesday that Golkosky faces charges, including running a stop sign and careless driving. The Beaver County District Attorney's office will make the final determination.
Local police departments, Allegheny County police and deputy sheriffs stood alongside troopers from Pennsylvania and officers from across the nation and Canada to honor Coble.
“We are all family,” Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper said. “It's a tough pill to swallow.”
Coble is the 94th state trooper to die in the line of duty.
Nearest Coble's casket sat his wife, Brenda, who is a dispatcher at the barracks where her husband worked, and their children, Savannah, 6, and Jimmy, 8, who wore his father's campaign hat throughout the two-hour service.
There are no answers to why Coble was taken so suddenly, said the Rev. Ruth Simmons of Avery United Methodist Church in Washington County, but healing will come.
“One day at a time, one thing at a time, one step at a time, knowing we do not walk through the path alone. God walks with us,” said Simmons, a speaker at the service.
Bardzil said he first met Coble years ago in the parking lot of the Butler barracks. Coble worked a vice detail, had hair down his back and a long beard, and sported a ratty Jimmy Buffett T-shirt.
Bardzil didn't know that Coble was a trooper. Coble reassured him: “Don't worry, I'm a good guy.”
“What an understatement. I didn't know I'd get to know Blake, but I did, and I'm blessed for it,” Bardzil said.
At a brief service at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in Chippewa, Brenda Coble tightly hugged her children as bagpipers played “Amazing Grace.” A state police helicopter flew overhead.
“To me, it's an honor being here,” said Peter Nava, a trooper with the Texas Highway Patrol.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.