Notable Deaths in 2017
Warren Evans, 87, represented his community, his country and his church in a lifetime of service.
He was a Navy veteran of the Korean War and later active with the Boy Scouts and Thomson Rotary Club, where he served as president. At Thomson First United Methodist Church he served on the administrative board and taught Sunday school many years.
His political career began as a member of the Thomson City Council. He was later elected to the Georgia Legislature, and eventually became Georgia state insurance commissioner.
The lifelong Augustan founded Pollock Office Machine Co., in 1965. He believed in giving back to the community and helping others, those who knew him recalled, and associated himself with people from all walks of life.
He celebrated his 94th birthday the day before his death and told his family it was the best birthday he ever had.
Although Kuhlke filled many leadership roles with his family business, he was extraordinarily active in leading a number of community associations over the past half century including chairman of the Board of Trustees for University Health Care services, chairman of the Augusta Resources on Aging, chairman of the Board of Directors of SunTrust Bank of Augusta and chairman of the Executive Committee.
He was also president of Tuttle Newton Home, Augusta Free School and Exchange Club of Augusta. A member of Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church, Kuhlke chaired its Board of Trustees, Finance Committee and the Building Committee.
Sgt. Greg Meagher
Meagher, 57, was a 33-year veteran of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office who died after being overcome by leaking liquid nitrogen fumes when he entered a building to rescue a company employee.
Baston started his career as assistant superintendent of Augusta National Golf Club and also held stints as superintendent for Westlake Country Club, and for Arnold Palmer at Bay Hill Country Club in Florida.
He was past president of both the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Georgia and America. The latter part of his career was spent in China, overseeing the construction and development of golf courses across Asia.
Duncan Johnson Sr.
A prominent Augusta businessman, philanthropist and second-generation owner of one of the region’s oldest automobile dealerships, Johnson, 72, was called a "quiet leader."
For more than four decades, Johnson operated the family Cadillac dealership, which supplied the Masters Tournament with courtesy vehicles for many years.
He was instrumental in creating Camp Lakeside, a multi-purpose facility at Lake Thurmond that hosts the Children’s Hospital of Georgia’s Camp Rainbow for pediatric cancer patients.
A Harrisburg native, the former Augusta fire chief was a no-nonsense leader who ran the department and improved city insurance rates, despite a limited department budget. He integrated the fire department, as well, and said he left office with a force that was 38 percent minority.
In later years he was a forceful leader of the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority, where he served as chairman.
Gary Melton Sr.
The 1956 Academy of Richmond County grad was one of the most successful prep athletes in the school's vaunted history.
In football he was a swift wide receiver, selected Most Valuable Player by his teammates. He was also a starting forward on the basketball team.
In baseball he not only played on three state championship teams, but signed a professional contract, playing briefly before an injury ended that career.
Henshaw, who covered South Carolina during three decades as a newspaper reporter for The Augusta Chronicle and Augusta Herald, died at age 92.
Her entire newspaper career was in the Chronicle-Herald's Aiken Bureau, where she began in 1968. She covered courts and statehouse issues affecting counties in the Central Savannah River Area, and wrote extensively about Aiken County's transition to a county council form of government. She held the position of bureau chief for a number of years before retiring in 1986.
Hicks, longtime head of Augusta’s waterworks and namesake of the N. Max Hicks Water Treatment Plant, died at age 77.
A professional engineer, Hicks joined Augusta city government in 1991.
“He was a multifaceted guy” who was also “an excellent engineer” with “absolutely the right demeanor” to become in 1996 head of the new consolidated government Augusta Utilities Director Tom Wiedmeier said.
Hicks was also a pastor, serving at First Primitive Baptist Church on Highland Avenue.
Francis A. "Mike" Calhoun Jr., an Augusta native and prominent south Florida developer, died in Miami at age 90.
A graduate of Richmond Academy, he was son of Blanchard & Calhoun co-founder Francis Augustus Calhoun, and active in Miami business, civics and politics during the 1950s, '60s and '70s.
Calhoun was a member of the Miami Board of Realtors and the Institute of Real Estate Management. He was elected to the Dade County Commission in 1972. He was chairman of the Crippled Children's Society, now known as Easter Seals Miami-Dade.
Dan Yates Jr.
Yates, 98, witnessed the first 78 Masters Tournaments and was a personal friend of Augusta National Golf Club co-founder Bobby Jones.
He attended the inaugural tournament as a 15-year-old in 1934 to watch his older brother, Charles, who competed. The Augusta National member and Atlanta businessman attended the Masters through 2014.
A World War II veteran, he never played in the Masters, but his son, Danny, competed twice as an amateur.
Sizemore, 81, was longtime president of Sizemore Inc., the temporary personnel, janitorial and contract security service firm.
He was active in the community and served in many capacities, including the Board of Directors of St. Joseph Hospital, Trinity Hospital, Walton Rehabilitation and the Walton Foundation. He was also a president of the Exchange Club of Augusta.
At Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church, he served as deacon, elder and Sunday school teacher.
A longtime Augusta College basketball coach, Vanover became the first commissioner of the Peach Belt and served in that role from 1990 to 2007. Before leading the conference, he was the Jaguars men’s basketball coach and athletic director for 25 years starting in 1963, leading the team to two consecutive NAIA District 25 championships and their first NCAA Division II Tournament appearance.
He compiled a 371-254 record and guided Augusta to two NAIA national tournament appearances before the Division II bid in 1978. His 1969-70 team went 27-3 and reached No. 5 in the nation.
With megaphone in hand, Woodley was a fixture in local elections supporting candidates, driving voters to the polls and most importantly, registering people to vote.
Woodley estimated in 2014 she had registered more than 9,000 people to vote in 2008 to 2012 elections, and even more since.
Born in Philadelphia, she graduated from Lucy C. Laney High School and was recruited to work in local elections in 1981 by former Augusta Mayor Ed McIntyre. In 2014, she rallied for Augusta commissioner Alvin Mason in the mayor’s election.
A successful businessman, Duehring was the longtime owner of several Zaxby’s franchises in Richmond and Columbia counties, giving many youngsters their first jobs.
“He really was a true leader in Columbia County,” Sheriff Clay Whittle said of Duehring. “He was a leader, as a businessman and as a person that cared about the community, and you just don’t meet those kind of folks anymore.”
Skipper Perry Jr.
No one was surprised when Perry was honored as the Aiken Chamber “Man of the Year.” He had, after all, served in the South Carolina Legislature, as Aiken mayor pro tem, on the Aiken City Council. He was also president of Aiken Center for the Arts, president Mended Hearts of Aiken, founding member and chairman of the Tri-Development Center, chairman of the Adult Development Center, founding member of the Historic Aiken Foundation, president of the United Way of Aiken, president Aiken Symphony Guild, chairman of the Heart Walk, president of Pinecrest Elementary PTA, chairman of Palmetto Amateur Golf Tournament, winner of the Order of the Palmetto, president Aiken Jaycees and president of the Aiken Sertoma Club, where he was Sertoman of the Year.
Preston Barber Jr.
Barber taught at Richmond Academy before beginning an almost 30-year career with the Augusta Youth Development Center, retiring as manager of the diagnostic unit.
A lifelong member of St. James United Methodist Church, he served as church treasurer for 34 years. He was also a regular volunteer to a variety of community efforts, such as the Augusta Rescue Mission soup kitchen.
Radeck was a media executive whose career spanned all aspects of television broadcasting including management of television stations, cable companies and the development of specialized managerial techniques for media businesses.
In Augusta he was associated with WJBF-TV and Fuqua Television, Inc., where he served as president- general manager. During his 25-year tenure at WJBF, the station was named twice Television Station of the Year.
He was named Citizen of the Year by the Central Savannah River Business League and chaired the Augusta Human Relations Commission.
He was a World War II Navy veteran
Sheriff Beggs served Lincoln County well. Over four decades he was a deputy, chief jailer and operations manager for the sheriff's office, before gaining the top job. He also was a former firefighter with the Lincolnton Volunteer Fire Department, an emergency medical technician with Lincoln County EMS and served as clerk for Lincoln County Superior Court for 24 years.
He served as an advisory board member of the Peace Officers Training Academy at Augusta Technical College.
A Navy veteran of World War II, Plunkett founded Plunkett Heating & Air in 1958 and remained there until his death at age 95.
Plunkett was also a faithful member and a deacon at Warren Baptist Church for 55 years.
Levi Hill III
A successful businessman for half a century with his family's Richmond Supply Co., Hill served on a number of boards including those of Georgia Railroad Bank and University Hospital, for which he was honored by the Georgia Hospital Association in 2007.
He played football for Georgia Military College, earned a business degree from the University of Georgia and served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force.
Hill was a member of St. John United Methodist Church, active in the community and a charter member of the Uptown Kiwanis Club.
Ashe was a member of the library staff for Morale Support at Fort Gordon for 34 years, retiring in 1991. She was also church historian at The Hill Baptist Church.
She attended the Houghton Elementary School and graduated from Tubman High School for Girls, then completed studies in Library Education at Augusta University.
Called Augusta's "Mr. Baseball," Heaton, successfully brought minor league baseball back to town in 1988 after a 25-year absence.
The effort was almost a one-man show as Heaton, with help from volunteers, constructed a baseball stadium in which a potential team could play.
And Army veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, he had received numerous medals and commendations before he retired as a lieutenant colonel.
Luke, 63, was a mainstay on the stages of Augusta community theater for nearly 50 years.
“Tere graced the stage of every venue in town, including even The Miller. His volume of work was incredible,” said Steve Walpert, former director of the Fort Gordon Dinner Theater. “He was a director, a stage manager, a terrific stylist and a very prolific actor."
Levings W. Laney
Laney, 104, began a long and celebrated banking career with the Federal Reserve Bank. In 1952 he joined the Georgia Railroad Bank, becoming executive vice president, and later, board vice chairman of First Bank of Georgia.
He was past president of the Augusta Lions Club, and chairman of the administrative board of St. John Methodist Church, where he held many leadership positions. He was also a charter member of Augusta's Pinnacle Club.
Owner and operator of Davison's Auto Service for more than 40 years, Davison was a member and past chairman of the Board of Directors of the Augusta Better Business Bureau. He was a member and past president of the Augusta Sertoma Club, as well as being an active member of St. Mark United Methodist Church, where he served on the Board of Trustees.
Barnes was a civic leader, social worker, businessman, school board member, county commissioner, Georgia legislator and Methodist minister. Following time on the Richmond County school board, he served six years on the County Commission, then successfully ran for the 90th District House seat. He not only pastored several churches in Georgia but also served as director of Augusta Urban Ministries. He chaired the community's Bicentennial effort in 1976.
Busy in civic, business and church affairs, Savage helped many youngsters in Augusta compete in the International Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio.
He was active in the Augusta AMBUCS club, serving as its president.
He was also a member of St. Mark United Methodist Church where he served as chairman of the church board, as well as president of the Jane Wells Bible School . He retired from AB Beverage after 60-plus years.
Ernie Bowman Jr.
One of the few remaining old-time south Augusta political operatives, Bowman was a member of the Richmond County Coliseum Authority in the 1990s, during some of its most challenging periods.
An accountant, he was one of the first black businessmen invited to join an informal group of Richmond County power-brokers, jokingly called "South Augusta Mafia," which promoted the concerns of south Augusta.
Recruited by University Hospital to create its clinical laboratory department, Dr. Ihnen also served on the faculty at the Medical College of Georgia. He was past president of the Richmond County Medical Society.
He played cello with the Augusta Symphony and sang in the Augusta Collegium Musicum. He also served on the boards of Lutheran Services of Georgia, Harry Jacobs Chamber Music Society and the Symphony Orchestra Augusta. He was a founding member of the board of Augusta Preparatory School.
F. Hamilton Kuhlke
Hamilton Kuhlke joined the family construction business in 1968 concentrating on commercial development. He became president of Kuhlke Properties in 1979, developing the Masters Economy Inn chain.
He was past president of the Rotary Club of Augusta and a Paul Harris Fellow. He was also on the advisory board of Wells Fargo Bank; member and past president of the board of St. John Towers and Sacred Heart Cultural Center and chairman of the board of trustees of the Augusta District United Methodist Church. He held many leadership roles at Trinity on the Hill Methodist Church.
He also served on the local boards of Child Enrichment, Inc., American Cancer Society, Georgia-Carolina Council Boy Scouts of America and the Episcopal Day School.
Jane M. Dye
Dye was an active member of the Church of the Good Shepherd, where she served on the Altar Guild, and at the Christ Church soup kitchen. She was a member of the founding board of Augusta Country Day School, (now Augusta Prep), former president of the Women's Board of University Hospital, the Guild of Sacred Heart Cultural Center, Azalea Garden Club, Colonial Dames XVII Century and Daughters of the American Revolution.
She worked more than 20 years as an administrator in the emergency room at University Hospital.
As a community volunteer, he served on the Augusta Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, University Healthcare Foundation-Chairman 1991-1992, the Gertrude Herbert Art Institute Board of Directors, Tuttle-Newton Home Board of Directors, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, United Way Campaign, Reid Memorial Presbyterian board of deacons and stewardship campaign chairman, Exchange Club of Augusta and The Augusta Golf Association.
At Augusta Country Club, Greg was a past club champion, senior club champion and mid-am champion. In 2004 he was medalist at the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, which qualified him to play in the British Senior Amateur.
Superintendent of Richmond County schools from 1983 to 1995, Strelec also served as principal of William Robinson Elementary, Tubman Junior High and Glenn Hills High schools. He was recognized as both a Georgia Principal of the Year and Georgia Superintendent of the Year.
He was active in many civic and professional organizations and was a foundation trustee of Augusta Technical College.
A Grovetown businesswoman whose beauty shop was a political focal point for half a century, Trudeau was a city council member from 1969-72 and again from 1977-84. She was also acting mayor from January to March 1982.
"We did a lot back then that makes (Grovetown) what it is today," she once told a reporter, citing the building of the city's first jail and its first city hall, now is a senior citizens center.
Husband Dennis Trudeau often credited her advice during his own lengthy tenure as Grovetown mayor.
Clerk of Superior Court for 12 years, Newsome was also clerk of Board of Commissioners and purchasing agent of Richmond County for 21 years.
He was past president of state Association of County Clerks, chairman of the Judicial District Clerks of Superior Court, a member of AMBUCS and the Patrick Walsh Council of the Knights of Columbus.