Lee Waldrip, a longtime Hall County businessman, died Monday of an apparent heart attack. He was 89.
Waldrip, a colorful man who owned a number of enterprises in his lifetime, is best known as an auctioneer. He recently opened a new auction house in White County.
According to his wife, Colleen, Waldrip was unloading a load of sand when he suffered the attack.
"He died doing what he liked doing — working," she said.
Waldrip had remained active despite some heart problems and an accident in March 2007 when he was run over by his tractor.
"Once he got back on his feet from the tractor accident, he was raring to go again," said his wife.
For more than half a century, Waldrip was active in Gideons International, a Christian organization that places Bibles in hotel rooms, schools and hospitals around the world.
"Lee was one of the first Gideons in Northeast Georgia," said Dorsey Wilbanks of Gainesville. "It was one the main things in his life."
Asked how many Bibles had been given as a result of Waldrip’s efforts, Wilbanks said "thousands and thousands."
Waldrip spoke in numerous churches about the work of Gideons International.
His pastor, the Rev. Danny Newbern of Zion Hill Baptist Church in Buford, said Waldrip was passionate about the things that were important to him, including his auctioneering profession and his expressions of faith through his church and his affiliation with the Gideons.
"He didn’t believe anyone should retire," Newbern said. "You might change careers, but he believed you should always work hard and do it well."
He said Waldrip had a take-charge attitude in most situations.
Newbern said he made a pastoral visit to Waldrip in the hospital following an accident last year.
"Before I left, I was going to pray," Newbern said. "He said ‘No, I’ll pray. Come over here.’ Instead of me praying for him, he was praying for me."
Lee Ray Waldrip was born in Hall County on April 18, 1918, and was the son of the late Dilmus and Hassie Powers Waldrip. At the age of 18, he was one of 21 survivors in the Cooper pants factory when a devastating tornado hit Gainesville, killing 87 people working at the factory.
In 1942, he started Victory Cab Co. and later bought a cab company and a bus line in Marietta.
In 1947, he graduated from Reppert Auction School in Decatur, Ind. In 1999, he was named to the Georgia Auctioneers Hall of Fame.
In addition to his wife, Colleen Kelly Waldrip, he is survived by a daughter, Linda Waldrip Rose; a son, Jack Waldrip; two brothers, Ramon and Marvin Waldrip; and five grandchildren.
Funeral services are scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Thursday in the chapel of Memorial Park Funeral Home in Gainesville.