Former U.S. Rep. Ed Jenkins represented the 9th District from 1977-93.
The longtime Democrat from Jasper “really looked after his district,” said Gainesville lawyer Julius Hulsey. “He worked hard in Congress and got a lot of money for Hall County and Gainesville.”
In 1990, the Almanac of American Politics described Jenkins as “one of the smartest operators on Capitol Hill.” The publication praised his dispassionate questioning of then-Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North during the Iran-Contra hearings and cited his efforts to protect the textile industry.
Johnnie Wiley, co-founder of J&J Foods in Gainesville, began the grocery store in 1976, along with his brother-in-law Junior Reece.
“Mr. Wiley was so well thought of in the community it was just unbelievable,” said state Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, who was a friend of Wiley.
Before establishing his own store, Wiley was involved in the business since age 12, owning two previous stores.
Edgar Dunlap Jr.
A prominent Hall County real estate developer, Edgar Dunlap Jr. was remembered as being “a good friend” and leader in the community.
“When I met him in college I thought he had a lot of get-up-and-go and I thought he would be successful in whatever he decided to work in,” said former Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders, who was a friend of Dunlap since the two met while attending the University of Georgia.
After working in the insurance business and operating an egg farm and poultry supply company, Dunlap went on to establish Dunlap and Associates and, along with his son, David, developed 15 subdivisions throughout Hall County.
George Hammond Law Jr.
George Hammond Law Jr. was an automotive and construction executive well-known for his love of the Georgia Bulldogs.
“George was probably as rabid a Georgia fan as you could ever meet,” said Rick Aiken, a friend and fellow member of the Athens Touchdown Club.
Law died after a 12-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was a fixture in Gainesville, serving as president of Law Construction Co. and later working alongside his brother Harold at the Law Lincoln Mercury dealership on what used to be called Broad Street in Gainesville.
For more than a decade, Law was the dealer behind Bulldog coach Vince Dooley’s Lincoln Town Car.
Mary Olive Parks
Mary Olive Parks was an advocate for children and champion of the underdog in her job with the Hall County school system.
Parks began her career as a special education teacher at Riverbend Elementary School before eventually becoming director of student services.
“Every superlative in the dictionary that can describe a good wife, mother and employee would apply to Parks,” said Robert Everett, retired special education director. “She was highly intelligent and extremely energetic. She was one of the friendliest, most gracious people.”
Wendell Carpenter was known as a gifted musician and an incredible teacher.
“Wendell was a friend of 30 years and a wonderfully talented musician, a fiercely doting father and a proud husband,” Sammy Smith, longtime friend and Gainesville school board member said.
Carpenter worked as a music teacher at Brenau University and as a choir teacher at Gainesville High School for a number of years.
Gainesville real estate developer Bradley Abernathy is remembered as a hard-working businessman, but one who was always quick with a joke.
“He leaves some awful big shoes to fill,” Eddie Hartness, Abernathy’s longtime friend and attorney, said.
Hartness called Abernathy a “real estate visionary” because he developed several areas and buildings in Gainesville that others didn’t consider. Among his developments are the old Regions bank building at the corner of E.E. Butler and Jesse Jewell parkways and two nearby shopping centers also on E.E. Butler.
The Rev. Dean Bryant served as pastor at 17 churches throughout Hall and Lumpkin counties.
Even as he lay on his own sickbed, he continued reaching out to people.
“No matter who came in (the room), he would call them by name,” said his daughter, Debra Maxwell of Dahlonega. “(These were) people I didn’t remember, but Dad would, no matter how long ago. He pastored their church or whatever.”
After retiring from pastoring, he began a ministry to the sick, traveling to homes and hospitals all over Northeast Georgia.
Verner “Sug” Hamrick
Former Gainesville Fire Chief Verner “Sug” Hamrick went to work for the Gainesville department as a firefighter in 1947 and became chief in 1971. He served in that role until his retirement in 1991.
The former chief was the brother of Gainesville City Councilman Bob Hamrick.
Now Interim Fire Chief Jerome Yarbrough, hired by Hamrick in 1984, said the chief was remarkably approachable, even to the rookies.
Barbara T. King
Barbara T. King was a renowned businesswoman and former executive president of Primerica Corp. and Citigroup.
King’s sharp mind for business and boundless energy led to the creation of ALW Media Management Inc., one of the largest privately owned business satellite TV studios in the U.S. King was also active in her community, focusing on economic education and community service.
“She was a legend everywhere she went,” said David Martin, executive director of the Georgia Council on Economic Education. “...What I liked most about her was how she knew everyone, knew things about them, and made meetings into family gatherings,” said Martin. “She was the kind of person you enjoyed being around.”
King served as a member on several advisory boards through Hall County, including the Georgia State Board of Education, as well as the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services, the Scott Hudgins Art Council and Brenau University’s board of advisers.
Chris Gardner owned two Gainesville restaurants, The Coffee Shop at Lawrence Pharmacy and Jay-Lou’s restaurant on Industrial Boulevard, and was known for giving free meals to those in need.
He also, with his wife, Janice Kimbrell Gardner, started Sonrise Camp, a nonprofit organization that gives children therapeutic riding lessons.
“He was just a great guy and always had a very good-natured spirit and a contagious laugh, and we will greatly, greatly miss him,” said the Rev. Mark Green, associate pastor of music at First Baptist Church. “He’s been a great choir member for all the years I’ve been here.”
Gainesville High School principal Chris Mance died at age 50 after a brief battle with esophageal cancer.
“It is a tremendous loss for all of us in Gainesville, not just for Gainesville High School but our community,” Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said.
The community remembered him with a candlelight vigil at The Rock, and Bruce Miller, Gainesville’s head football coach, likened the news “to someone kicking you in the stomach.”
Mance was named principal in 2008, after serving as interim principal for about four months. Previously, he had served as an assistant principal for seven years.
John C. Lewellen
Dr. John C. Lewellen of Gainesville died after a two-year battle with cancer, but was a tireless worker, even in his final days, friends said.
A native of Texas, Lewellen joined the health system’s medical staff in October 1989 and served as chief of emergency medicine since 2008. In March, he received the lifetime achievement award from Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
“He was incredibly hard-working. He gave the job his all,” said Dr. Gary Kempler, Lewellen’s predecessor in the ER director position. Lewellen was “as brave and positive as anyone I’ve ever known in his fight with (cancer).”
Charles J. Slay Jr.
Charles J. Slay Jr. helped construct many of Hall County’s most visible buildings like the Hunt Tower, Gainesville First United Methodist Church and football stadiums for East Hall, North Hall and West Hall high schools.
“He loved Hall County and North Georgia. You can’t drive within a five-mile radius in Gainesville without going by something he built,” his son, Eddie Slay, said.
He also served as president of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce and was a volunteer in the community, including time as a Boy Scout leader. Much of his time and efforts went to Civitan International and Special Olympics.
Warner Fusselle was a Gainesville High graduate and the radio voice of the Brooklyn Cyclones minor-league baseball team since 2001.
Fusselle left Gainesville after high school to pursue a college degree at Wake Forest and an eventual career as a sportscaster for numerous baseball and basketball teams, as well as the voice of the television show “This Week in Baseball,” after the legendary Mel Allen.
“He carried Gainesville along with him all the way,” said his sister, Alicia Fusselle. “The most successful thing about Warner is not that he reached the pinnacle of his field, but that in doing so he never compromised any of the gracious manners he learned in the South.”
James “Jim” Newton Thompson
The Rev. Dr. James “Jim” Newton Thompson spent more than 50 years of ministry in the Methodist church, including 14 years as pastor of Gainesville First United Methodist Church in the 1970s.
Thompson served during a historic time as the church was relocating from downtown Gainesville to its present site on Thompson Bridge Road.
“He was the kind of guy you knew was always on your side. But at the same time he was a truth teller. You knew he would shoot straight with you simply because he loved you so much,” said the Rev. Terry Walton, senior pastor at the church.
Herbert Bell owned and operated Bell’s Cleaners on Washington Street in downtown Gainesville from 1936 until he sold the company in 1977, was a World War II veteran and was known for collecting antique cars.
At one point Bell had 25 antique Hudson cars. Two of the cars were made famous in the Oscar-winning film “Driving Miss Daisy.” The cars were painted the same color and one was used for indoor scenes and the other for outdoor scenes.
Bell also survived the 1936 tornado that killed hundreds in downtown Gainesville. He was 19 at the time and stopped to get his hair cut at the barbershop when the tornado touched down.
Sidney Olsin Smith Jr.
Sidney Olsin Smith Jr. was a lifetime Gainesville resident and retired federal judge known for his passion for education.
Smith began his legal practice in 1962 and served as both a superior court and federal court judge. He also served on the board of trustees at Brenau University, was chairman of the Gainesville Board of Education and served on the state Board of Regents from 1980 to 1987.
“Judge Smith was a classic Southern gentleman and a scholar,” said Brenau President Ed Schrader. “The judge was perhaps the most thoughtful person I have ever known. He carried on his family’s legacy of leadership at Brenau with integrity, enthusiasm and energy.”
Smith also served in the Army during World War II and was 12 when the 1936 tornado hit Gainesville.
Dave Anderson, along with his wife, Haydee, founded Gainesville’s only Spanish-language newspaper, Mexico Lindo.
After graduating from Piedmont College in Demorest, Anderson taught chemistry at North Hall High School in the late 1950s. While there, he also coached football, basketball and baseball.
But many remembered Anderson for his involvement with the local Hispanic community.
“He just was a very special man,” friend Billie Fulmer said. “It didn’t matter your race or your age or your difficulties, he always helped.”
Ulysses Byas was an iconic educator during Gainesville’s era of segregation.
He was principal of Fair Street High School and then E.E. Butler High School until leaving the Gainesville school system in 1968. E.E. Butler closed in 1969 with the end of segregation in Gainesville. Byas went on to become a superintendent in Macon County, Ala., and was believed at the time to be the first such black school chief in the Southeast. He also served as superintendent in New York.
“He was just so inspirational to students and faculty, not only from a historical perspective but just his views on educating children and what learning is really about — not just academics in school, but applying it to things in life,” Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said.
Dub Harwell was publisher of The Times from 1982-84 and member of the Gainesville community until 2003.
Harwell’s son, Craig, said his father fell in love with Gainesville when the Gannett Co., then owner of The Times, moved him to the city as the paper was gearing up to become one of the first print sites for USA Today.
After serving as publisher for two years, he moved to a position with Gannett in Delaware before retiring in 1988. In 1995, he relocated to Gainesville.
“He wanted the paper to be fair and objective and not favor any one person or any one organization,” said Johnny Vardeman, managing editor at the time Harwell was publisher.
Grace Hooten Moore
Grace Hooten Moore, who graduated from Brenau in 1938, served on Brenau’s Board of Trustees during the 1970s and made history in 1974 when she was appointed as Brenau’s first female chair of the Board of Trustees.
Friends said she was very active in the community as well, including work with the Girl Scouts and Junior Service League.
“First and foremost, Grace Moore was one of the kindest, concerned, most genteel Southern women you would ever meet,” Brenau University President Ed Schrader said.
Laura Fay Irvin Vandiver
Laura Fay Irvin Vandiver spent more than 30 years as a human resources director for various manufacturing businesses and was business director of P.U.R.E. Ministries.
“During her career, she helped with seven or eight startups,” including Kubota, said her husband, Russell Vandiver, the president of Lanier Technical College. “That was sort of her legacy from a business standpoint. She impacted thousands of peoples’ lives.”
Milt Campbell was a 1956 Olympic gold medalist who made Gainesville his home.
Campbell, a native of Plainfield, N.J., won the Olympic decathlon at the 1956 Summer Games. He was considered the greatest athlete in New Jersey history and one of the all-time great Olympic champions.
“Campbell was, to me, the greatest athlete who ever lived,” Olympic documentarian Bud Greenspan told The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., in 2000. Campbell earned most of his fame on the track. As an 18-year-old entering his senior year at Plainfield High School, Campbell won the silver medal in the 1952 Olympic decathlon, finishing second to Bob Mathias.
Marvin Orenstein was the longtime owner of Gem’s Jewelry in downtown Gainesville and known for donating watches to star high school football players.
Orenstein’s father-in-law opened Gem Jewelry in 1936 shortly after the infamous tornado devastated the city.
Following the death of his father-in-law in 1946, Orenstein approached Gainesville High School requesting to set up an award in his memory.
“It wasn’t a job to him. He totally enjoyed what he did,” his daughter Linda Orenstein said. “He loved his customers. He used to say that would never sell someone something he wouldn’t have owned himself.”