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Gainesville author, commentator Gordon Sawyer dies
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Gordon Sawyer

Gordon Sawyer, a Gainesville author, radio commentator and history buff, died Thursday at the age of 89.

According to his blog, Sawyer wrote six books about the history and people of the Southern mountains.

Sawyer was active with the Northeast Georgia History Center and was a radio commentator for WDUN and a columnist for AccessWDUN.

“Gordon was one of the finest men I’ve ever met in Gainesville. He was a man of humor, of great integrity, a fantastic author and historian of Northeast Georgia and will very sorely be missed for the man that he was,” Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh said.

Darragh and others around town knew Sawyer through his time in the Kiwanis Club of Gainesville and as a historian who “kept us all well informed about our very colorful past here in Northeast Georgia,” Darragh said.

Sawyer was also the first executive secretary of the Georgia Poultry Federation and editor of the Poultry Times.

“He was a central figure in the period when the poultry industry was modernizing, 1950s, and growing into what it is today,” Georgia Poultry Federation President Mike Giles said.

In 1960, Sawyer founded the SawyerRileyCompton advertising agency in Gainesville before it moved to Atlanta in 1991.

“Gordon Sawyer was a legendary ad man, storyteller and businessman,” said Morton, Vardeman & Carlson President John Vardeman. “I consider him to be one of my greatest mentors for unselfishly guiding me in the early days of developing my own advertising firm.”

Before ever meeting Sawyer in person, attorney Ashley Bell said the two had a respect for one another that bridged party lines.

After being elected as the national president of College Democrats, Bell heard Sawyer speak on the radio of his support of the fellow Gainesville native despite Sawyer’s conservative allegiances.

“That has stuck with me ever since then that we in Gainesville are bigger than party politics. Our community is bigger than labels,” Bell said. “We support each other, and when people in our community do things that are bettering people or doing outstanding things in the community, nation and state, we get behind them and support each other.”

Bell called the radio station to get a tape of the interview and still has it.

Sawyer’s support for his fellow men also challenged Lakewood Baptist Church Senior Pastor Tom Smiley to write his books, as both are published authors.

“He was just one of those men in the community that every time I saw him, he made me feel important,” Smiley said. “He was gracious and kind to me.”

After Bell lost the state House of Representatives race in 2004, Sawyer lended a hand and gave Bell directions to Goat Rock, the mythical place he created where politicians go when they lose.

“He called me after the election and told me I did a good job and was proud of me and said, ‘Well you know, you’ve got some other friends out on Goat Rock,’” Bell said.

In his later years, Sawyer spent more of his time as an advocate for the poultry industry and remained actively engaged in the business.

“I think the poultry industry always held a very special place in his heart, and the feeling is mutual,” Giles said.

Little & Davenport Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements, which haven’t been set.

Assistant Metro Editor Clark Leonard contributed to this article.

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