Notable Augusta area deaths of 2012
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Mike Carrington - Jan. 7
Mike Carrington, the Thomson High School football announcer and McDuffie County development director, died Jan. 7. He also served as the acting executive director of the chamber of commerce for most of 2011.
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Addie Powell - Jan. 10
Addie Powell, a historic preservation advocate for Augusta's Bethlehem neighborhood died at age 90. She fought efforts to raze dilapidated buildings in the community and sought to preserve them -- many with ties to Augusta rich black history. A Paine College graduate she worked as a librarian in Brooklyn, N.Y., before returning to her home town and 20 years of service at the Wallace Branch of the Augusta Library system.
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Sandy Rogers -- Jan. 28
A veteran law enforcement professional, Master Cpl. Sandy Rogers, 48, of the Aiken Department of Public Safety, was fatally shot in the line of duty during a call to an Aiken neighborhood.
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Luvenia Pearson - Jan. 28
After spending more than 60 years educating cosmetology students across the Augusta area, Luvenia Pearson died at age 102. When she came home to Augusta, she founded Luvenia’s School of Cosmetology and operated it until 1964. In a 1991 Augusta Chronicle article, Pearson said she loved the independence that cosmetology offered to people, as a way to make a good living while helping other people feel good.
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Willis Irvin Jr. - Feb. 10
Willis Irvin Jr., 86, was a World War II veteran who fought at Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, a former Realtor, an author, and an ordained Presbyterian minister known for his ministries to prisoners and the area’s homeless. Irvin made his mark in many areas, but perhaps he was best-known for his tennis career, playing on The Citadel’s team in college and winning numerous tournaments and trophies during his long career. He was a highly ranked tennis player, even into his 80s. Irvin was also instrumental in establishing the facility that later became the Newman Tennis Center, and taught tennis to “literally thousands” of Augustans during his lifetime.
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Mark Flint - March 4
Mark Flint, the artistic director for the Augusta Opera from 2003-09, died in a Phoenix hospital from complications from a five-year battle with cancer. He was 57. While at the Augusta Opera, Flint conducted productions including Carmen, Man of La Mancha and Sweeney Todd. Tonya Currier, who worked with Flint as a soprano soloist in the Augusta Opera, described him as a master musician with a “wickedly funny sense of humor.” “He had a wonderful passion for the operatic art form, and was truly fabulous,” she said. “He was a big name in the opera business, and he felt very fondly about Augusta.”
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Thomas Cox - March 5
Augusta Fire Department Capt. Thomas Cox was known for kindness, attention to detail on the job and his remarkable memory about what was important for those with whom he worked. He died at age 65. He was also active in his church and the Fleming Lions Club.
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Buddy Hendry - March 10
As director of Columbia County school system’s department of public safety, Hendry helped write and revise regulations for student safety and arm school safety officers. He started work for the school system 18 years ago after serving 28 years with the Florida Highway Patrol.
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Marie 'Frenchie' Bush - March 12
Marie “Frenchie” Bush, a historic preservationist and former president of the Garden Club of America, died March 12 at Trinity Hospital. She was 85. An Augusta native, she founded Historic Augusta Inc. and the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation with her late husband, Bill, and was instrumental in establishing Historic Augusta. She is credited with helping save many historic buildings in Augusta, including the Old Government House, the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art and the Old Medical College of Georgia.
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Juan Boatwright -- March 25
Juan Boatwright died at age 11, but his tragic brain injury at a Hephzibah day care in 2001 pushed his mother Jackie (shown in photo) to get legislation passed in Georgia to help prevent similar accidents.
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Tommy Mercer - March 28
Former Columbia County Commissioner Tommy Mercer, a man known for his fiery rhetoric and boundless compassion, died March 28. He was 70. Mercer served from 2000-2008 as the commission’s District 2 representative, earning a reputation for outspokenness and tenacity. His signature achievement was passage in 2004 of the county’s sweeping ban on indoor smoking, among the state’s strictest. He served as a member and past chairman of the Columbia County Board of Health, and in addition to the smoking ban also helped write safety regulations of tattoo and piercing parlors and paved the way for construction of the Health Department office that opened in 2011.
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Dennis McBride - April 20
Dennis McBride, an elder emeritus of the Alleluia Community and one of its founders, died at age 75. He was a Signal Corps major stationed at Fort Gordon in 1973 when he requested an honorable discharge and abandoned his 14-year Army career to help build Alleluia. He served as an elder from 1977 until this year and was the community’s overall coordinator, the person who speaks for the body of elders in official matters, during most of that time.
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Jerry Saul - April 21
Jerry Saul, Augusta’s tax commissioner from 1977 to 2008, died April 21. He was 80. Friends and colleagues remember Saul as a friendly and capable manager who modernized the tax office, starting with the “Tax-Mobile,” a school bus painted red, white and blue that carried tax and tag information and applications out into the community in the late 1970s.
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Tom Campbell - May 2
Tom Campbell, an experienced television newsman whose smooth delivery and personable warmth made him one of Augusta’s most popular TV anchors, died May 2 after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 68. Campbell had been with WRDW News 12 since 1995. In a career that spanned 44 years, he worked as an anchor and reporter in several cities including Tallahassee, Fla.; Columbus, Ohio; Houston and Beaumont, Texas; and San Luis Obispo, Calif.
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Mim Woodring - May 2
Miriam L. “Mim” Woodring, a former publisher of the North Augusta Star and longtime community activist, died May 2. She was 83. Woodring and her husband Sam Woodring bought the North Augusta newspaper in 1954 for $1,000. Over the next 45 years, the couple established the Star as a platform for civic activism and community journalism. Woodring also served on Aiken County Council and numerous boards, including Friends of The Nancy Carson Library Foundation and the North Augusta Cultural Arts Council. Among her honors was a Golden Deeds award through the Exchange Club of North Augusta.
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John D. Watkins - July 4
John D. Watkins, a lawyer and civil rights activist most remembered for orchestrating a visit to Augusta by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. 12 days before his assassination in Memphis, Tenn., died at his home July 4. He was 82. In his legal work, Watkins partnered with attorney Jack Ruffin to desegregate the Richmond County School System in the 1960s, according to his obituary. He later was asked by King on short notice to arrange an Augusta meeting that was held at Beulah Grove Baptist church in 1968.
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Yetta Harelik -- July 25
Yetta Harelik was the oldest member of Augusta’s Jewish community when she died at age 104. She was known to many for the half century she worked with her husband Sol Harelik in their family business Georgia Loan and Jewelry Company, on Broad Street.
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Betty Wilson - Aug. 3
Remembered by many for her big, blonde hair, orange vest and fierce protectiveness of the children she ushered across Walton Way, Betty Wilson was known to decades of school children and their parents. She was a crossing guard for 50 years, 43 of those outside Episcopal Day School.
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Herb Beckham - Aug. 12
Herb Beckham, 77, a former Richmond County school board member and Richmond County commissioner known for his wit and conservative views, died Aug. 12. While on the school board, he orchestrated the 1983 ouster of the superintendent, while arranging a deal to give the board its first black president. He also served as County Commission chairman.
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Jimmy Ezzell - Sept. 10
Jimmy Ezzell was a Southeastern newspaperman who held editing positions with The Augusta Chronicle, The Post in North Augusta, and retired as editor of the True Citizen in Waynesboro.
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David Dupree - Sept. 12
David Dupree became the Laney High football coach in 1958 and won state titles in the Georgia Interscholastic Association in 1961 and 1966. He remained head coach through the 1983 season and finished his career with a 209-60-13 record. Laney’s football field is named after Dupree.
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Truett Wood - Sept. 14
Truett Wood, a Navy medic who witnessed the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi, was hailed a “wonderful patriot.” Jesse Goldman, the chaplain for the Riverfront Marines, Detachment No. 1132, said, “God brought him through all kinds of horrible experience. He was a wonderful patriot.”
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Judge Bernard Mulherin Sr. - Sept. 17
Senior Superior Court Judge Bernard J. Mulherin Sr. was a jurist remembered for seriousness on the bench and community work off it. A former FBI agent and private attorney, he was very active in civic affairs, serving on the Augusta City Council and the Richmond County Development Authority. He served on the local bench for more than 30 years.
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Dr. Joseph Brooks - Sept. 28
Dr. Joseph Brooks, former Aiken County school superintendent and educator, passed away Sept. 28.
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Larry Hendrix - Oct. 14
Larry Hendrix was a longtime investigator for both police and the District Attorney's office. He's shown here (left) with a young sheriff's investigator named Ronnie Strength.
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Donnie Chavous - Oct. 17
Donnie Chavous, a retired Richmond County sheriff's captain, had a long and successful law enforcement career.
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Gordon Farmer - Oct. 19
Gordon Farmer, of North Augusta, was not only a successful businessman and civic leader, but a celebrated collector who achieved national attention for extensive aquisitions of everything from old bicycles to Jaguar cars.
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Dr. W.G. "Curly" Watson - Oct. 24
Dr. W.G. "Curly" Watson, a beloved Augusta physician who delivered thousands of local babies, died at age 102.
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Madison Woo - Nov. 3
A successful businessman and civic leader, Madison Woo was a former Richmond County commissioner, the first Asian-American elected to a local office.
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Charlie Webster - Nov. 10
A popular former Richmond County sheriff in the 1980s and '90s. The new jail is named for him.
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Jeanette Garrison, -- Nov. 14
A former North Augusta nurse, Jeanette Garrison founded Healthmaster,an Augusta-based home health care firm that at one time operated offices in five Southeastern states with 3,000 employees and nearly 10,000 patients. However, she was convicted in 1995 of Medicare fraud, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of conspiracy and making false statements and was sentenced to 33 months in prison. She later testified before the U.S. Senate on Medicare abuse.
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Frank Lawrence -- Nov. 19
Frank Lawrence, owner of Augusta’s Bobby Jones Ford dealership and past owner of two Augusta professional sports teams, died Nov. 19 at age 71.
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Jay Jaffe -- Nov. 21
Jay Jaffe, who founded a successful public relations firm in Colorado, died Nov. 21. He worked for the Augusta Herald then became editor and publisher of The Columbia News in 1970, and from that position helped preside over the then-weekly newspaper’s merger with The Martinez-Evans Times, which formed today's Columbia County News-Times. He became news and public service director for WRDW TV and then handled public relations for a Georgia congressman and a congressional committee.
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Gerald J. Smith -- Nov. 26
Noted local historian, educator and theologian Gerald J. Smith, 71, was author of "To Seek a Newer World: A History of Columbia County Georgia," the officially authorized history of Columbia County, Smith was fascinated with the community he had called home since 1977.
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Sister Cornelia Ransom -- Nov. 27
Sister Cornelia Ransom, whose frequent travels to minister in Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States earned her the nickname “the flying nun,” died Nov. 27 from the cumulative effects of Parkinson’s Disease.
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Coach Hank Daggett -- Dec. 3
Hank Daggett (left), Josey High School's first football coach, passed away Dec. 3.
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Tommy Moxley -- Dec. 5
Founder and owner of Appliance Land in Martinez, Moxley was a well known business leader and past president of the Columbia County Merchant's Association.
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John Small -- Dec. 10
John Small Sr., a former Academy of Richmond County football star and first-round draft pick for the Atlanta Falcons in 1970, died Dec. 10.
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Rev. Jerry Taylor -- Dec. 13
The Rev. Jerry Taylor, a leading advocate for disabled people in Augusta, died Dec.13. He was 72.