Bail bondsman recalled as mentor, trailblazer

Ernest Roberson.jpg

Ernest 'Boss Man' Roberson, who died Monday, was considered a trend setter and a trailblazer in the bail bonding profession.


By Philip Sayblack
Staff Writer

Friday, February 17, 2017

A trailblazing local bail bondsman is being remembered fondly by friends and family.

Ernest "Boss Man" Roberson, one of Nash County's first bail bondsmen, died Monday at the age of 76.  Roberson — called by some the "Godfather of bail bondsmen in the area" — started his bail bonding career in 1980, and over time became a revered role model for his contemporaries and the community.

Local bail bondsman Stanley "Big Griff” Griffin smiled happily as he remembered Roberson's anything but ordinary business ethic and the impact it had on him as a bail bondsman.

"He had a certain humiility about him," Griffin said. "He taught me that you don't have to act tough in this job, but rather to just be tough. He would treat every one of his clients like they were people, not inmates. He would treat them with respect no matter what."

Fellow bail bondsman Joey Lewis agreed.

"He always told me to treat people like people," Lewis said, adding that lesson has never been lost on him. He recalled a story of a client he had run into years ago as he talked about how Roberson's lesson had stuck with him.

"The client thanked me for treating him with that respect and told me he had gotten his life turned around, had a job and was supporting his grandmother," Lewis said, smiling. "It twisted my heart. It really set me back. It makes you feel appreciated."

Griffin called Roberson "a super guy," adding "he was very wise and always had good advice to offer." He added Roberson's stature — he stood approximately 5-foot, 7-inches tall, Lewis said — and his quiet nature were deceiving. He said though Roberson wasn't the stereotypical bail bondsman, his name and his persona were big.

Edward "Tiny" Meyer, another one of Roberson's contemporaries, said that big persona shined every day both on and off the job.

"He would take the time to call his clients personally and remind them of their court dates so that they wouldn't have to deal with the police," Meyer said. "He cared that much. His word was his bond. If he told you something, that's what it was."

Rudolph Battle, another local bail bondsman, agreed.

"Boss Man taught me to befriend my clients and make myself available to them," Battle said. "He was very giving. He would even give bond himself for clients."

That positive ethic and personality earned him just as much respect off the job as on. Battle and other bondsmen who shared fond memories of Roberson said he was beloved and respected throughout the Twin Counties.

They said Roberson's passing is a big loss both for the bail bonding profession and for the region — but stressed everyone is celebrating Roberson rather than mourning his passing. Roberson's funeral will be at 11 a.m. today at Union Hill Baptist Church in Nashville.