Russell Vandiver, who served as Lanier Technical College’s sixth president, will be remembered for his dedication toward not only growing Hall County’s economy, but creating career pathways for students.
On Monday, Jan. 25, he died at 67 years old.
Josh, Vandiver’s son, said his father has touched many lives in Northeast Georgia, both young and old.
“From a career standpoint, I think he left a legacy of being very successful and growing the business world in Hall County and surrounding counties,” he said. “From a personal legacy, I’d say he was a caring man who was passionate about his family, not only me, but my wife and our kids.”
Having served Lanier Tech for over 37 years, Vandiver watched as it grew from a small trade school to a technical college with satellite campuses.
Mike Moye, Lanier Tech’s fifth president, said he has been a close friend of Vandiver for decades and considers the man as the best economic developer “that the state of Georgia has ever had.”
“He knew how to go out and get industries, and provide the kinds of services they needed, primarily training, advice, location information and everything you can imagine a new industry might need,” Moye said.
When Vandiver became the president of Lanier Tech, Moye said they still kept in touch, talking most evenings over the phone. Their most recent conversation was three weeks ago.
Moye said he was shocked when he heard of his friend’s death.
“When you’re the president of anything, there are not a lot of folks you can talk to,” Moye said.
“Somehow Russell and I found each other and were able to create the kind of friendship, personal and professional, that allowed us to do that. I will miss just communicating with him and knowing that there’s someone there I can talk to about anything at any time.”
Tim McDonald, Lanier Tech’s interim president, offered a statement about Vandiver, describing his contributions to the college and surrounding communities as “massive.”
In Vandiver’s role as vice president for economic development from 1979 to 2010, McDonald said the man worked diligently to recruit companies and “tens of thousands of great paying jobs” to Northeast Georgia. He shared that Vandiver created Lanier Tech’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center and the Industrial Ammonia Refrigeration Training Center.
As the college’s president, McDonald said Vandiver led the opening of the Forsyth Conference Center and Building C of the Forsyth campus and spearheaded the construction and opening of the Dawson campus.
“The community prosperity we enjoy today is a direct result of Russell’s efforts in working with other economic development groups in our area,” McDonald said. “ … Russell has many friends at the college who will miss him dearly.”
After Vandiver retired in 2013, Josh said his father spent a majority of his time hunting, fishing and supporting his grandchildren at their sporting events.
“He was a very driven person, but at the same time, very caring for the people in the community,” he said.
Moye noted the strong bond Vandiver shared with his son, daughter-in-law and grandkids.
“Josh was his best friend, in addition to his wife Laura (who died in 2012),” Moye said. “And those grandchildren, oh goodness, he couldn’t get enough of being around them and teaching them how to play softball and baseball, and how to hunt and fish. They were such a great family.”