AMELIA, VA (WWBT) - A 78-year-old Amelia Courthouse man died Friday after the tractor he was in overturned into a body of water.
The Amelia County Sheriff's Office says 78-year-old Reuben Lee Blanton Jr. was operating a 2017 Massey Ferguson tractor near the water, which was about 14-feet deep.
Dirt gave way under the tractor, causing it to overturn, police said.
"It's concerning… I mean farming is a dangerous job it's not one of the more simple jobs out there," said Blake Kierson, owner and manager of Skinquarter Farm Market.
Blanton was pronounced dead at the scene Friday morning.
"He was a hard worker, especially for someone being in their late 70s," Kierson said. "Not a lot of people could keep up with him. He was out in the combine, or planting, feeding cows. Always working, always busy."
Tuesday several hundred people showed up for Blanton's funeral service at Amelia Academy.
"All the seats in the gym were full and there were people standing," Kierson said. "There were a lot of people there."
Skinquarter Farm Market was closed all day Tuesday in order for employees to pay their respects.
"Our family needed to be there because he's a part of our family," Kierson said. "The only other time the store has closed down for a funeral is when my father-in-law's dad passed away in 1989. That's the level of importance Reuben had to us."
Blanton's obituary says he was a fourth generation farmer.
"Reuben devoted his entire life to farming and received numerous awards and recognitions for his hard work," it said.
Kierson added Blanton had been a farmer ever since he was born, and people respected him int he community.
"I met Reuben through my father-in-law and I know my father-in-law looked up to him," he said. "He probably wouldn't have been very happy having a million people stop by yesterday just to come and see him because he's not a very selfish person. He would want people to take care of themselves."
But Blanton was more than a farmer at times as well.
His obituary states he portrayed Santa Claus during the holiday season and gave away veggies from his garden to kids, especially corn and pumpkins.
"We're going to make sure that his pumpkin patch, that he had already started growing this year, we're going to make sure that happens for all his friends and family like he normally does," Kierson said.
Blanton's obituary also states any donations should be made towards Amelia Academy.
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