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Pioneer commercial developer died Friday
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Don Stephens, 74, the man many say set the stage for commercial development along the Ga. 400 corridor in Dawson County, died Friday morning following several years of declining health.

Friends and family gathered Monday morning beneath the arbor at Lumpkin Campground to mourn the loss.

A native and lifelong Dawson resident, Stephens co-founded Byrd-Stephens Building Supply and is credited with paving the way for the county’s first franchise grocery store. He also developed several other commercial and residential properties in the Dawson County area.

“Don Stephens both understood and really enjoyed business,” said Gary Evans, who along with Stephens was among the group that organized and established the First Community Bank of Dawsonville, now BB&T.

“His early efforts in developing a portion of the Highway 400-Highway 53 corridor were the springboard for all the commercial development that exists there today. (He) recognized early on the economic importance that both Lake Lanier and Ga. 400 would have in the growth of Dawson County,” Evans said.