Way We Were: Bob Daniel ahead of the curve, behind the scenes

Richmond County Attorney Robert C. Daniel Jr. (right) chats with then-county administrator Robert Dixon in 1987

Most Augustans today think of Robert C. Daniel Jr. as the name on the parkway that fronts one of the city’s main commercial districts.

 

But the man, Robert C. “Bob” Daniel was more than that. Much more.

Before his sudden and unexpected death from leukemia in 1993, Daniel was the man who shepherded Richmond County and its elected leaders for more than 20 years as county attorney.

He was recognized — and respected — statewide, being asked twice to serve as president of the Georgia Association of County Attorneys. He was also president of the local bar association.

He legally represented not only the county but the Coliseum Authority, helping it through construction and completion of the then-controversial Civic Center.

The son of a Baptist minister, Daniel was low-key, polite, friendly and very, very smart, and everybody knew it.

When Sheriff Charlie Webster wanted to expand jail space to save money, he went to Daniel who not only paved the way with the commissioners but also with also the federal government, which was watching our jail population.

When the county wanted taxpayers to pass a special purpose sales tax at a time when such were opposed locally and failing nationwide, they went to Daniel, who supplied the facts and figures that justified such action.

It was Daniel, the part-time peacemaker, part-time problem-solver and part-time arbitrator who kept the commissioners — who publicly feuded then as they do today — on point and on-board, as they charted a course.

Most people thought Bob Daniel was quietly running the county, and most people were probably right.

There were none more influential than Daniel, said then-District Attorney Danny Craig, when Daniel died in 1993.

“I’d say he was one of the most, if not the most, powerful political figures,” said Superior Court Judge William M. Fleming Jr. “Bob Daniel knew as many people in Richmond County as anyone. He had a great gift of remembering names and people.”

When he died, The Augusta Chronicle said in an editorial that it would be difficult to replace him and hard to imagine a Richmond County without him.

Twenty five years later, that’s still true. But at least we have a road to remind us.

 

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Sat, 10/21/2017 - 23:04

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