Every Monday, The Times takes a look at someone who keeps local government running smoothly.
Robert Croy’s knowledge of local history is more vast than the depths of Lake Lanier.
“There are two former governors buried in Alta Vista Cemetery,” said Croy, a Gainesville native. “One of the ‘Ladies of the Lake’ is buried there, too.”
Don’t know what ladies he’s referring to? No worries, Croy can fill in that gap for you, too.
“Back in the 1950s two ladies just up and disappeared,” Croy said. “About 40 years later, when workers were dredging Lake Lanier, they found the ladies’ car — they were still in the front seat.”
As the manager of the Northeast Georgia Regional Visitor’s Center, Croy gets to share his knowledge of local trivia with thousands of visitors each year.
“A lot of people who come in want to go visit waterfalls or even old cemeteries — the history center in Gainesville is a popular destination,” Croy said. “Pottery and wine are also big draws.”
With visitors who come from as far away as Switzerland, Egypt and Germany, he said sometimes the requests for information have gotten a bit unusual.
“There was one gentleman who came in and wanted to visit a chicken farm,” Croy said. “I called one of the poultry companies and they agreed to take him out so that he could see one.”
Even though he seems to be a perfect fit at the visitor’s center — a single-wide trailer just off Interstate 985 north of Flowery Branch — he hasn’t always worked in the industry.
“I used to work in retail,” Croy said. “After I left that, I thought this would be a fun job — and I was right.”
When he’s not helping curious visitors, he’s refreshing the center’s supply of hundreds of brochures, maps and information guides.
As the manager of the visitor’s center for the past 9 years, Croy has stored his fair share of humourous memories.
“There were two women in the center and I was telling them about this Elvis impersonator in Cornelia. I was in the middle of talking and in he walks — in full costume — to drop off some brochures,” Croy said.
“What a surprise. The women took pictures with him and everything. After he left one of the women said, ‘I’ve always wanted to say this: Elvis has left the building.’ That’s definitely one of the funniest things to happen while I’ve been here.”
Although most people have their own ideas of places they’d like to visit when they stop into the visitor’s center, Croy has some suggestions for those who are a little less decided.
“I love going to Dahlonega,” he said. “I love the quaint charm.”
Even if you’re a Georgia resident, Croy said you could learn a thing or two about the area by stopping in the visitor’s center.
“People don’t realize what we have here (in Georgia),” said Croy. “There’s lots of history to discover.”