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2008 leaves area short a few good citizens

POSTED: January 4, 2009 1:00 a.m.

A number of public officials and business leaders were among those who died in 2008.

Frank Green, a neighborhood grocer in Gainesville for nearly a half century, died in January after a period of declining health. He was 90.

Green and his wife, Lillie Mae, made a $4 million gift from the estate of their son, Ronnie, for what became the Ronnie Green Heart Center at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

The donation, which was given to the Medical Center Foundation in December 2001, is the organization’s largest single gift to date.

Green’s Grocery, the family business, was opened in 1950. The store became well known for fresh meats and a selection of homemade cakes and pies. It was one of the few stores that continued to offer home delivery and provided customers with credit accounts.

Joe S. Hatfield, whose founding of Fieldale Farms Corp. with brothers Lee and Tom Arrendale helped make Gainesville the poultry capital of the world, died June 21 at the age of 84.

Hatfield, who held the title of Fieldale Farms Corp. president since it was founded, was the last of the company’s three founders to die.

Bill Hargrove of Clermont died May 5, just four days shy of his 107th birthday. He was recognized in 2007 by the U.S. Bowling Congress as the world’s oldest league bowler.

Martha Hope, who devoted much of her life to programs for girls of Northeast Georgia, died Nov. 17 following a period of declining health.

Hope, a Jefferson native, was a volunteer with the Yonah Council of the Girl Scouts of America when her daughters were young. She eventually became executive director for a 13-county area.

Later she would become executive director for Camp Fire Girls, which later became known as Camp Fire.

Hope founded Camp Echoee, a summer camp for girls, first at a location in the Nacoochee Valley, then later in Habersham County.

Two prominent former lawmen died in 2008.

Ed England, 86, who served as Hall County sheriff for 12 of his 30 years in law enforcement, died Jan. 30. Former Gainesville Police Chief Hoyt Henry died Feb. 29 at the age of 86.

The Rev. Frank Harris, 44, a hospice chaplain and part-time youth minister was murdered Dec. 1. Authorities believe he gave a ride to a Cleveland man and woman who are now charged in his slaying.

Other notable deaths from the pages of The Times in 2008:

  • John Parks, 61, Jan. 2. Parks was a veteran broadcaster in Gainesville spending the last years of his life with Jacobs Media Corp.
  • Ben Anderson, 28, Jan. 6. of natural causes. He was the son of retired Hall County extension agent Gene Anderson and his wife, Cathy.
  • Dixon Blackwood, 51, brother of Times columnist Harris Blackwood. His battle with a brain tumor became known to readers through a series of columns.
  • Eldon Goss, 85, March 9. He operated a service station on Broad Street for many years.
  • Lee Waldrip, 86, March 10. Waldrip was a colorful auctioneer and businessman who lived much of his life in Hall County.
  • Henrietta Estes, March 19. She was a longtime educator and church volunteer.
  • Harold DeLong, 86, May 14. He was a former Gainesville city commissioner and Buick dealer.
  • Argus, May 31. Argus was the longest serving canine used by Gainesville Police Deptartment.
  • Hugh "Baby" Jarrett, 78, May 31. He was a member of Jordanaires who appeared in two films with Elvis Presley. His career included broadcasting stints with Gainesville’s WLBA and WGGA.
  • John Nicholson, 96, June 7. He was the owner-operator of Nicholson’s Drive-In, a popular Gainesville landmark.
  • Kay Carlton, 67, June 26. Carlton was a skin cancer victim who became crusader for cancer screenings.
  • James Harrington, 82, July 5. He was a driving force in the modernization of Georgia’s system of technical colleges, including Lanier Tech.
  • Cpl. Matthew Phillips, 27, July 13, died in battle in Afghanistan. Phillips served with the U.S. Army’s 2nd Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team for two years. He was laid to rest in Coal Mountain.
  • Geri Naylor, 50, Aug. 24. She was a public relations executive with Morton, Vardeman & Carlson
  • George Duncan Echols, 92, Sept. 21. He was patriarch of a family which operates peach and apple orchard in the Alto area.
  • Janie Tolbert Cotton, 81, Nov. 17. She was the first woman to serve on Jefferson City Council.
  • Wendell Ramey, 47, Nov. 17. He was a well-known mechanic and partner in Gainesville’s last full-service gas station.
  • Col. John Casper, 88, Dec. 18. He was a decorated Air Force veteran who served in World War II, the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War.


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