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GBI agents mourn loss of Vandiver
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Officers of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are called special agents. To his GBI colleagues, Marvin Vandiver was really special.

Vandiver, 82, died last week after a bout with cancer. Robbie Hamrick, a retired GBI director, was just starting his career with the agency when he shared an office with Vandiver.

"He was a GBI agent’s GBI agent," Hamrick told me this week. Vandiver, who rose to special agent in charge of the Athens GBI office, was an expert on auto theft.

"I learned a lot from just sharing an office with him. It was kind of a bullpen with desks and no cubicles," Hamrick said.

He said Vandiver filed away notes and papers under the sun visor of his state car.

"That was his filing system," he said. "I told him one time that if he was ever in a wreck they would never find him under all those papers."

After retiring, he served 14 years as a bailiff in Hall County Superior Court for Judge Kathlene Gosselin.

He was laid to rest on Saturday, and in a tribute to the state he loved, his casket was draped in a Georgia flag.

Good news for Big Jim

For the past few months, Gainesville civic leader Jim Walters has been waging a battle against cancer. This week after months of chemotherapy, Walters underwent a test that determined that he is in remission and cancer free.

Although I occasionally get on his bad side, Big Jim is a friend and I celebrate the good news with him.

He has made tremendous contributions to our community and state with both his time and money. We need his wisdom and counsel and its good to know we can count on it for years to come.

Celebrating Kit Dunlap

There have been times in the past that it was tough to get the city of Gainesville and Hall County to agree on anything. However, last week they both agreed that the community is well served by Greater Hall Chamber President Kit Dunlap.

They declared last Thursday, which was also the day the chamber’s board of directors met, to be "Kit Dunlap Day" in both Gainesville and Hall County.

In addition to her chamber work, Kit is chairman of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District.

Most recently, she was named by Georgia Trend magazine as one of their 100 most influential Georgians. That’s traveling in pretty high cotton.

In my humble opinion, she is one of the best things to come out of Alabama since Interstate 20.

A degree with honor

In 1937, Thelma Louise Brewer Jones went from Hickory Flat High School to live on campus at Habersham College to take home economics and commercial business courses. Habersham College is now North Georgia Technical College.

She participated in a work-study program that allowed her to alternate studying and working on campus.

"Sometimes I worked in the kitchen and we’d have to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning to make biscuits — hundreds of biscuits," Thelma said. "But, you know, when you work with a bunch, it’s really not work; it’s fun!"

Some of her other jobs were as a waitress in the campus dining hall and typing the school newspaper.

She now resides at New Horizons North in Gainesville, where she was recently presented with an honorary diploma from North Georgia Tech.

"Oh!" she exclaimed with obvious appreciation, "You mean now I can tell people I graduated from North Georgia Tech?"

You sure can. Congratulations.

Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 770-718-3423.