Though Dye, 75, died from a prolonged illness Saturday, his legacy will remain as a man whose affection for Augusta was topped only by the love he had for his family: his wife of more than 50 years, Jane Dye, whom he affectionately called “Baby”; three children; and six grandchildren.
“His strongest points were his family,” said Walter Sprouse, the executive director of the Augusta Economic Development Authority. “I don’t know that I ever met anybody that was just so devoted to his wife and his children, and especially his grandchildren, anymore than Jerry.”
Sprouse will serve as a pallbearer during Dye’s memorial service at 11 a.m. Wednesday. The service will be held at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 2230 Walton Way, Augusta, and the authority’s board of directors will serve as honorary pallbearers.
Dye, an Augusta native, graduated from the Academy of Richmond County in 1955 and went on to earn his law degree at Mercer University School of Law in 1962.
In 1970, he joined the authority and helped steer financial decisions that brought industrial development and other projects to Augusta. Dye retired from his post in 2010.
Sprouse, who met Dye when he became the authority’s executive director in 2003, said the attorney’s scrupulous attention to detail and thorough knowledge of the law ensured that the authority never faced any errors with industrial revenue bonds.
“It was all thoroughly investigated by him legally,” Sprouse said. “All the paperwork was done precisely. I think that was probably one of the best things about Jerry is the fact that he knew the development authority’s law in the state of Georgia. He knew it forwards and backwards.”
Dye is also credited with helping to develop West Lake subdivision in Martinez and other Columbia County neighborhoods.
“He treated Augusta like his family,” said Terry Elam, a former chairman of the authority and president of Augusta Technical College. “When he looked at our community, he looked at it from ‘what can I do to help.’ ”
Elam worked with Dye on the authority board for nearly 12 years and said Dye’s sound legal advice made him greatly respected.
Dye’s counsel went beyond the government realm, and his legal assistance was requested by the likes of Aquinas High School and the Medical College of Georgia, Elam said.
“Those were nongovernment-type situations, not industrial, but Jerry was always there for the community,” Elam said. “He always gave you the advice sometimes you didn’t want to hear, but he was the legal authority. We took his advice and we worked with it.”
Dye’s daughter, Lynn Smith, echoed the sentiment expressed by Sprouse and Elam – that Dye loved Augusta and wanted to see the city thrive.
“He cared deeply that all citizens of Richmond County receive the far-reaching benefits that new business brings to an area,” Smith said in an e-mail.
Smith said her father, who loved spending time with his family, was a patient problem-solver and a good listener and had a wonderful sense of humor.
“He especially valued quality education,” she said. “He inspired many with how he faced problems with a quiet, thoughtful, determined attitude (and) always looking for solutions.”
Even after retirement Dye stayed involved with the authority, serving as a legal consultant for a year until the transition phase of hiring his replacement was complete. He also had plans to continue attending the authority’s monthly meetings.
“His desire – but his health didn’t allow it – was to actually become a member of the development authority once he retired,” Elam said. “Unfortunately, it never came to pass, but he’ll always be a member and his imprint is just so great.”