VALDOSTA -- The Valdosta State University community gathered Friday afternoon in Whitehead Auditorium to celebrate the life of a professor whose life ended too soon.

The body of Bobby Blake, assistant dean of the College of the Arts at VSU, was discovered in the trunk of his green Cadillac Deville on West Magnolia Street about 8:30 a.m. March 20. The official cause of death, according to the state crime lab in Moultrie, was multiple gunshot wounds to the torso.

Upon his arrival to the campus, President Ronald Zaccari had an opportunity to meet Blake and talk to him briefly.

"What a great role model ... ," Zaccari said, referring to Blake as an exemplary model for the entire university system and an ambassador for VSU.

Louis Levy, vice president of Academic Affairs, said Blake will be remembered by his family, friends, colleagues and students forever.

"He had an untiring optimism," Levy said, who described Friday's event as both a day of celebration and a time of mourning.

A close friend of Blake's, Lanny Milbrandt, dean of the College of the Arts, shared a special Blake memory.

"I will never forget the time he took out his saxophone and played the 'Happy Birthday' song for me," he said with a smile, causing others to laugh for each of them had similar memories of the university professor's impromptu antics. "He had an infectious good humor."

Several students walked to the podium to share some of their favorite memories of Blake, their teacher and advisor.

"He was always laughing and asking people how they were doing," said Kemia Irving.

LaMichael Hendrix described Blake as the happiest person he knew.

"He had a passion for what he did," said Tenia Boone. "While getting to know him, I was inspired. I learned much more from him than music. I learned about me ... and my culture. He taught me to use what I had. Without (Blake), I would still be lost. I thank God everyday that I had the chance to meet him."

Funeral services for Blake were held at New Greater Union Ministries Church March 27. He was buried the following Saturday at the Zion Cemetery in Birmingham, Ala.

Blake came to VSU in 1991.

To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.

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