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Final farewell: Notable folks with Columbus area connections who died in 2018

Ralph B. Johnson, former sheriff of Muscogee County, died May 12, 2018.
Ralph B. Johnson, former sheriff of Muscogee County, died May 12, 2018. photo@ledger-enquirer.com

In ways as varied as their names, these folks with Columbus area connections had notable lives before they died in 2018:

Frances James Kirven, 74, Jan. 1: President of Junior League of Columbus 1983-84. Former Clubview Elementary and Brookstone School teacher. Died at home in Cashiers, N.C.

James Bobby Gaylor, 83, Jan. 7: Phenix City manager 1995-2001. Retired executive with United Cities Gas. Former Glenwood School board leader. Georgia State Bowling Association Hall of Fame member. Died at St. Francis Hospital.

Dorothy McNeel Young, Jan. 14: Volunteer for organizations such as Girls Club, Girl Scouts, Junior League, Westville, Anne Elizabeth Shepherd Home and PAWS Humane. Died surrounded by her family in Columbus. Age unreported.

State Rep. George Bandy, 72, Jan. 16: Democrat represented Alabama House District 83, comprising parts of Lee and Russell counties. First elected in 1994. Served as pastor of St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Opelika. Died at Navicent Health trauma center in Macon after being hospitalized for injuries sustained during a Jan. 5 car crash in Columbus.

Kirk Treible, 76, Jan. 17: President of Andrew College 1998-2002 and interim president 2014-15. Died from cardiac arrest while on vacation in Egypt.

Don Williams, 82, Jan. 19: Former president of Eastern Little League. Retired vice president of Georgia Cold Storage. Died at St. Francis Hospital.

Gerald Devon Kiker, 78, Jan. 20: Elected Clerk of the Circuit Court in Russell County for 41 years. Retired in 2001. Died at Midtown Medical Center.

Dorothy Woodruff Bruner, 94, Jan. 25: Former community service positions included: president of Clubview Elementary, Richards Junior High and Hardaway High PTAs; official scorekeeper for Hardaway baseball and basketball and Peach Little League; founding member of Hawkbackers at Hardaway; den mother for Cub Scouts; scout leader for Brownies and Girl Scouts; volunteer for Meals on Wheels, Wynnton Neighborhood Network, Relay for Life/American Cancer Society and Medical Center Auxiliary/John B. Amos Cancer Center. Worked at Army and Air Force Exchange Service (1944-54 and 1971-83), Morningside Elementary School (secretary 1957-65) and Hardaway High School (registrar 1965-71). Died in her Columbus home.

Minnie W. Wimbish, 102, Jan. 27: Lone woman on platform when civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. spoke in Columbus in 1958 despite bomb threats. First black chairwoman of Muscogee County March of Dimes. Among first black female registrars for Muscogee County primary elections. First female historian of General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia. Received the Goodwill Ambassador Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a citizen by the State of Georgia. Died in Columbus Hospice.

Charles Curry, 72, Feb. 10: Past chairman of Randolph County Commission. Former city councilman in Shellman. Director and past president of Cuthbert Rotary Club. President and chairman of First State Bank of Randolph County. Died in Phoebe Sumter Medical Center.

Milton L. Lenoir, 88, Feb. 19: Taught art classes for 13 years at Central Activities Center. Author of six illustration books distributed worldwide. Died in his Phenix City home.

Charles Arthur “Chuck” Fessenden, 84, Feb. 21: Former performer and musical director for Springer Opera House, Springer Children’s Theatre and Human Experience Theatre. Former violinist for Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Also volunteer for RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, Linwood Cemetery, National Infantry Museum, Midtown Medical Center and National Civil War Naval Museum. Career in print media, choral education and choir directing included South Columbus UMC, Eddy Junior High School, Columbus College, St. Paul UMC and Swift Textiles. Died at home in Columbus.

Norman J. “Norm” McCullough II, 75, Feb. 21: Avid outdoorsman turned property into forest and wildlife preserve recognized by the Alabama Treasure Forest. Retired in 1999 after 26 years with W.C. Bradley Co., where positions included vice president for finance, CEO of The Game and VP/finance of Char-Broil. Retired again in 2009 after seven years as CEO of Columbus Clinic. Died in Columbus Hospice.

Jill Chancey Philips, 61, March 4: Founding member of Joseph House Art Gallery and Bo Bartlett Center. Served as president of Columbus Museum Guild, area director of Georgia Watercolor Society, Uptown Columbus board member, Grace Presbyterian Church site planning and development committee member and Ledger-Enquirer Page One Awards judge. Professional artist also known through her business, Knack and Jill. Died from cancer.

Lilla “Joyce” Williams, 89, March 5: Retired from Columbus Parks and Recreation Department, where she worked with youth throughout the city, then as director of South Columbus Senior Citizens Center. Died under care of Orchard View Skilled Nursing Center and Columbus Hospice.

John Carroll Williams, 74, March 10: Mayor of Hurtsboro 1972-84. Served on Chattahoochee Valley Area Planning and Development Commission 1978-84, also on boards for Hurtsboro School Foundation and Macon Academy. For 38 years, operated Capital Horse Auction. Also was auctioneer for J.M. Wood Auction Company and owner of John Williams Livestock. Cause/location of death not available.

Donald Joseph Rose, 89, March 14: Served as chairman of Columbus Civic Club and board member for Columbus Heart Association. Retired vice president of First National Bank in Columbus and executive advisory board member of American Bankers Association. Died at home in Forsyth.

Ann L. Hardman, 60, March 19: Clerk of Muscogee County Superior Court. Elected in 2016. CEO and founder of Faith Worship Center International in Columbus and River of Life International in hometown of Asheville, N.C. CEO and founder of Ann Hardman Ministries, which mentored and trained organization directors, CEOs and business owners. Authored 10 books. Died at her Columbus home after a brief illness.

Theodore “Ted” Land, 81, March 31: Georgia state senator 1979-90 and Columbus councilor for 2½ years, filling the unexpired term vacated by cousin Clay Land, who was elected to the Georgia Senate in 1994 and now is a U.S. District Court judge. Retired marketing executive for Royal Crown Cola. Also owned variety of businesses and worked as a realtor. Died in Columbus Hospice.

Patrick Richard “Dick” Ellis, 75, April 8: Former chairman of Columbus Development Authority, deputy city manager 1998-99 and former director of community and economic development. Retired in 2011 as Columbus Technical College vice president for operations. Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce 2014 Volunteer of the Year. Executive director 1991-2002 of now-defunct Buick Challenge, a PGA Tour event at Callaway Gardens. Died after extended illness.

Retired USAF Lt. Col. John Alfred Blackmon Jr., 84, April 14: Columbus native became Georgia assistant attorney general. In 1970, Gov. Lester Maddox appointed him state revenue commissioner. Reappointed by Gov. Jimmy Carter in 1971. Simplified the filing of federal and state income tax. Successfully lobbied for state’s first hotel/motel tax, which funded construction of Georgia World Congress Center. Expansion of the tax funded other projects, such as 1988 Democratic National Convention, Georgia Dome and 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Chairman of state’s Democratic Party 1995-97. Died after brief illness.

Ted Maxwell “Max” Parker, 79, April 15: Past president of Pine Mountain Chamber of Commerce and Harris County Lions Club. Began career at Parker Chevrolet and ended as rural mail carrier. Died after extended illness.

Brenda Henson Humber, 73, April 17: Retired after 31 years with Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, last five as Chattahoochee County DFCS director. Died at Columbus Specialty Hospital.

Charles Lewis “Pete” Moore, 85, April 19: President of Columbus Lions Club 1986-87. Named Lion of the Year 1985-86. President of Southeastern Recovery Association 1978-79. Executive member of International Consumer Credit Association. Also a Jaycee and volunteer for Meals on Wheels and Young in Heart Ministries. Cause/location of death unreported.

Frances M. Duncan, 97, April 27: Past president of Piedmont Medical Center Auxiliary and volunteer for Columbus Hospice, Achievement Academy, Downtown Elementary Magnet Academy and Kiwanis Club. Received the 2008 Dan Reed Rotary Service Above Self Award. Appointed to Council on Disabled Georgians by Gov. George Busbee. First female chemist for Pratt and Lambert Paint Co.. University System of Georgia professor emeritus. Cause/location of death unreported.

Betty Harris Wilson, 82, April 28: Russell County coordinator for Alabama Cooperative Extension Service for 43 years. Community leader for numerous organizations, including Phenix City/Russell County Chamber of Commerce, Phenix City Vocational Advisory Board, Lee-Russell Council of Government Advisory Board, Kiwanis Club of Phenix City, Russell County Cancer Society, Russell County Task Force for the Elderly, Lee/Russell County Alzeimer’s Disease Advisory Board, Trinity United Methodist Church and PTOs at Glenwood and St. Patrick’s schools. Contributed columns to Ledger-Enquirer and Phenix Citizen. Taught home economics at Valley High School. Died in her Phenix City home.

Florence Gibson Patterson, 90, April 29: Past president of Columbus Personnel Review Board and Soroptimist International of Columbus. Fundraiser and board member for Columbus Hospice. Worked 35 years for Royal Crown Cola, mostly in human resources and employee benefits. Cause/location of death unreported.

Terry Wayne Bell, 57, May 3: Headquarter Nissan co-owner and general manager in Columbus. Nissan Global Award of Excellence 2017. Served nonprofit organizations such as Warrior Outreach, House of Heroes and Mercy Med. Died from cancer.

Dr. John Watson, 88, May 4: Credited with introducing chemotherapy, especially for breast cancer, to the Columbus area in 1967. Founding president of Georgia Society of Nuclear Medicine. President of Medical Association of Georgia and its foundation. Appointed to Georgia Department of Human Resources board by Gov. Zell Miller. Cause/location of death unreported.

Ralph B. Johnson, 61, May 12: Muscogee County sheriff for nine years and served in the department for 26 years. Won special election in 1999 to fill unexpired term of Gene Hodge. Re-elected in 2000 and 2004. Died from cancer at home in Hohenwald, Tenn.

Dr. J.H. Walker Harris, 89, May 30: St. Francis Hospital Department of Radiology head for 20 years and president of Radiology Associates of Columbus for 10 years. Past president of Georgia Radiological Society. First doctor in Georgia to perform shoulder and knee arthography and first in Columbus to develop a mammography technique. Died in his Columbus home.

Clement Clay “Bo” Torbert Jr., 88, June 2: Elected in 1958 to represent Lee County in Alabama House. Elected to Alabama Senate in 1966 and served two terms. Elected in 1976 to chief justice of Alabama Supreme Court and served until 1988. Served as president of the Conference of Chief Justices, chairman of the National Center for State Courts and chairman of the State Justice Institute. Elected in 1979 to Alabama Academy of Honor. Died at home in Opelika.

Peter J. Burnham, 66, June 10: Chaired state-award-winning “Clean the Green” community cleanup campaign. Active in the Fountain City Jaycees. Managed former Columbus nightclub Dee Fords. Died at home in Waverly Hall.

James “Sonny” Fitzpatrick, 66, June 10: Facilities maintenance manager for Columbus State University’s RiverPark campus but better known as CSU’s Santa Claus or as the Candy Man, zipping around Uptown on a Segway and giving out Smarties and smiles. Died from cardiac issue at West Georgia Medical Center.

Beverly Smith Taylor, 89, June 17: Past president of St. Francis Hospital Auxiliary, Historic Columbus Foundation trustee and Springer Opera House board member, Editor and producer of national award-winning Garden Gateway publication for the Garden Club of Georgia. Died at home in Columbus.

Harry Nelson, 95, June 23: Past president of Eufaula Kiwanis Club. Served on first Eufaula Planning Commission. Also served Eufaula Housing Authority, Barbour County Board of Revenue and Industrial Development Board. Founding president of Citizens Bank of Eufaula 1965-87. Cause/location of death unreported.

Annette Hardage Corley, 81, June 25: Retired field services manager of Columbus office for Georgia Department of Labor. Named as department’s 1986 Manager of the Year. Served as a Columbus Urban League board member, a Columbus Jaycette and a Miss Georgia Pageant hostess. Died at Brookside Glen Assisted Living and Memory Care.

Retired MSgt. Millton “Davey” Lockett, 83, June 27: In 1959, became first black U.S. Army Ranger instructor. Served community as a Shriner. Died at home in Columbus.

Carol Y. Williams, 65, June 30: Past president of Columbus Civitan Club and Fountain City Civitan Club. Past secretary of Georgia District Civitan Club. Worked as a director at Blue Cross Blue Shield for 38 years. Died at Kindred Hospice.

Glynn Cooper, 84, July 12: Elected sheriff of Chattahoochee County in 1972. Served for 44 years, the second-longest tenure of a sheriff in Georgia history, before retiring in 2016. Died at Columbus Hospice.

Lynn Katherine Whiddon, 72, July 13: Professional violinist performed as associate concertmaster in Columbus Symphony Orchestra for more than 30 years. Founded the Youth Orchestra of Greater Columbus in 1993. Served several terms as its president and named president emeritus. Taught hundreds of music students in her home and through the Music Conservatory Division of the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University. Served as a Brownie troop supervisor and a Columbus Museum docent. With husband, Rex, honoree at 2014 Crystal Ball fundraiser for American Cancer Society. Died at Spring Harbor Continuing Care Retirement Community after battling pancreatic cancer.

Miranda “Randy” Story Jones, 84, July 21: Retired education programs coordinator for the Pastoral Institute. President of Medical Center Auxiliary 1972-73. Served community organizations such as Columbus Museum, Historic Columbus Foundation, Schwob School of Music, Girl Scouts, Callaway Gardens and PTAs of Wynnton Elementary and Columbus High schools. Named in 1999 as a Woman of Distinction by Soroptimist International of Columbus. Died in Atlanta.

Marie Turner Moshell, 64, July 31: Served on Pastoral Institute Board of Directors for more than 25 years, including as chairwoman. In recognition of her dedication, the institute established the Marie Moshell Therapeutic and Family Care Fund. Served on LaGrange College Board of Trustees for 12 years and helped endow in the college’s library the Moshell Learning Center, named in memory of her late husband. William Marcus Moshell. Served on St. Luke United Methodist Church Administrative Board and St. Luke School Board of Trustees. Died at home in Columbus.

Jerry Wayne Carpenter, 77, Aug. 6: Elected to Russell County Board of Education in 2014. Cattle farmer and owner/operator of Villula Plantation. Retired from Fieldcrest Mills. Former owner of J&J Services landscaping company. Served as a director for the Russell County Cattlemen’s Association. Was four years into his six-year school board term when he died at St. Francis Hospital.

Lloyd Hall, 82, Aug. 7: Past president of Columbus Board of Realtors and Columbus Jaycees. Past chairman of property acquisition for Chattahoochee Valley Salvation Army Board of Directors and St. Paul United Methodist Church Administrative Board. Also known as the “Mater Man,” delivering hundreds of bags of tomatoes with loaves of white bread and jars of mayonnaise to friends throughout the Chattahoochee Valley. Cause/location of death unreported.

Daniel “Danny” Durham, 54, Aug. 16: Harris County High School athletics director and an assistant principal since 2014. Came to HCHS as football team’s defensive coordinator in 2012. Died in St. Francis Hospital after collapsing from a cardiac issue while jogging on the school’s track.

James L. Fay, 87, Aug. 24: Served 11½ years on the grand jury-appointed Muscogee County School Board, including three years as president. Past president of Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus, Chattahoochee Valley AIB Banking Group and Green Island Country Club. Seved on vestry and as senior warden for Trinity Episcopal Church. Retired business development director for Synovus Securities. Cause/location of death unreported.

Glenn Vaughn Jr., 89, Aug. 29: Publisher of the Ledger-Enquirer, starting in 1980 and retired as chairman in 1990. Started the L-E’s Page One Awards, honoring outstanding high school seniors and teachers. Past president of local United Way chapter. Served on boards for Columbus Museum, Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Aflac, advisory boards for Chattahoochee Valley Community College and Columbus Area Vocational School and local chapters of the Boys and Girls Clubs, Urban League, YMCA, March of Dimes and Boy Scouts. Died at home in Greenville, S.C.

JoAnn Hart Cotty, 70, Sept. 23: Left sales career with IBM to work for Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. Helped start first shelter for battered women in Columbus and helped form the Alliance for Battered Women, serving on its board for eight years. Worked for Muscogee County School District at Woodall Psychoeducational Center. Ended career as pre-kindergarten coordinator. Died from lung cancer.

Jarrett E. “Gene” Hodge, 85, Sept. 28: Muscogee County sheriff for nearly 20 years after being appointed in 1980 in the wake of Sheriff Jack Rutledge’s death. Re-elected four times. Retired in 1999 to lead internal affairs office at Georgia Department of Corrections under former Columbus Police Chief Jim Wetherington, then the corrections commissioner and later Columbus mayor. Past president of Georgia Sheriffs Association and Georgia Sheriffs Youth Homes. Served on executive board of Georgia Correctional Association, on Crime Prevention and Youth Committee of National Sheriffs Association and on board of Columbus Regional Chartered Council on Child Abuse. Died at home in Columbus.

Bobby Earl Ledford, 80, Oct. 1: Past chairman of Columbus Personnel Review Board and Muscogee County Republican Party. As a Columbus Jaycee, received Distinguished Service and Young Man of the Year awards. Served on boards of Columbus Boys Club, CONTACT and Columbus Public Library. After 25 years working for Georgia Power, founded commercial energy management company D&B Enterprises Died at St. Francis Hospital.

Milton Benjamin Guy Jr., 98, Oct. 14: Former civic leader in Manchester. Positions included city commissioner and school board member. Served on Manchester Development Authority and Manchester Business Association Board of Directors. Past president of the Manchester Jaycees and administrative board chairman of First United Methodist Church. Owned Georgia L.P. Gas Co. 1957-2014. Died at home in Manchester.

Brenda Joyce Price, 77, Oct. 19: Former executive director of Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau. Helped organize Columbus Quincentennial Celebration, Superball, Uptown Jam, RiverFest and 1996 Olympic softball competition in Columbus. Served on Historic Columbus Foundation Board of Trustees. Died at home in New Orleans after battling Parkinson’s disease.

James Walker, 86, Nov. 2: Among first nine representatives elected to Muscogee County School Board when it became an elected governing body instead of grand jury-appointed in 1993. Represented District 3 for 18 years. Chaired board 2007-08. Served on Georgia School Boards Association. Retired U.S. Army command sergeant major and financial adviser. Died in Atlanta.

Victoria Theresa Broussard Allen, 68, Nov. 5: Past chairwoman of New Horizons Behavior Health board of directors. Helped organize the Working Closet, providing clothes for women transitioning from welfare to work and from Battered Women’s Shelter. Served as a Ledger-Enquirer Page One Awards judge. Honored by Girl Scouts as a Woman of Distinction. Retired human resources assistant vice president for Synovus. Died at home in Midland.

Olice H. Embry Jr., 81, Nov. 11: Retired dean of Columbus State University D. Abbott Turner College of Business and professor of management. Performed in cast of numerous productions at Springer Opera House and served the theater as a board member. Cause/location of death unreported.

Kimberly Antwinette Porter, 47, Nov. 15: Most known for being ex-girlfriend of rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs and three of his children but had modeling and acting career that took her from Columbus to international fame. Found dead in her Los Angeles home. Cause of death still unannounced. Funeral and burial back in Columbus, where her grandmother Lila Mae Star owns the Royal Cafe soul food restaurant.

Michael Allen “Mac” Collins Sr., 74, Nov. 20: Former U.S. congressman who represented part of Columbus area 1993-2005 as a Republican. Started political career as a Democrat on Butts County Commission in 1970s. Switched parties and was one of only 11 Republicans in state senate after being elected in 1988. Credited with helping build party’s dominance in the state. Family business Collins Trucking based in Jackson. Cause/location of death unreported.

James A. “Bubba” Ball, 96, Nov. 27: Chattahoochee Valley Sports Hall of Fame member. Coached the Baker High School boys basketball team to GHSA Class AA state championship in 1954 and 1956. Improved the Baker football team from 0-10 in 1959 to 8-1-1 in 1965. First football coach at Shaw High School, which improved from 1-6 in 1978 to 7-4 in 1980 before losing his final 20 games in 1985-86. Died at home in Columbus.

David Harold “Hal” Averett, 69, Nov. 28: Involved in numerous community organizations, including Columbus Scholars, Safe House, Trinity House, Open Door Community House, Valley Interfaith Promise, International Friendship Ministries and Trees Columbus. Deacon at First Baptist Church. Servant leadership projects took him to South America, Central America and Liberia. Founded custom home building company D. Hal Averett Contracting. Died at his Lake Harding home.

Dora E. Jackson, 87, Nov. 28: Founding president of JUGS (Justice, Unity, Generosity and Service). Retired teacher after 37 years combined in Russell and Muscogee county schools. Deaconess at First African Baptist Church. Docent at Columbus Museum. Died at home in Columbus.

Wayne Leslie Henly, 95, Nov. 30: Past president of Columbus Lions Club. Volunteered for more than 12,000 hours at St. Francis Hospital 1990-2010. Former postal inspector in New York City. Died at Spring Harbor Continuing Care Retirement Community.

Ruth Hahn Wall Kiralfy, 101, Dec. 7: Served as president of Columbus Academy of Lifelong Learning and Columbus Study Club and as board member for Muscogee County Humane Society and Stewart Community Home. Served as administrative secretary and as lieutenant governor for Kiwanis Club of Columbus. Among first female Kiwanis members. Organized overseas trips for Young in Heart seniors at First Baptist Church and fellow residents at Spring Harbor Continuing Care Retirement Community. Died at Spring Harbor.

Wesley Mott, 74, Dec. 12: Worked in Columbus Police Department for 36 years and retired as assistant chief. Died at Clifford Chester Sims State Veterans Nursing Home in Panama City, Fla.

Meridith Jarrell, 62, Dec. 17: Chaired the Muscogee County School District’s citizens committee that oversees spending of money generated from the 1 percent Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax, which funds capital projects. Previously chaired the Muscogee County Library Board, Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce board, United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley campaign, Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation and local chapter of Girl Scouts, which named her a Woman of Distinction. Retired president and chief operating officer of Universal Card Services. Died at home in Columbus after car crash a dozen years ago left her battling several health issues, including being in a wheelchair.

Edwin Aldine Pound Jr., 84, Dec. 23: Past president of South Columbus Boys Club. Volunteer for Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry. Worked at Columbus Bank and Trust as well as Farmers State Bank. Also worked for Georgia Division of Family and Children’s Services. Died at Columbus Hospice.

Mark Rice, 706-576-6272, @MarkRiceLE.

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