Ed Marlow McIntyre Sr., an icon of Richmond County politics and the only black mayor of Augusta, died Saturday afternoon after suffering from failing health, according to family members. He was 71.
His son, E. Marlow McIntyre Jr., said his father died at about 12:45 p.m. at University Hospital. The cause of death wasn't released by the family.
Over the past few years, Mr. McIntyre had lost a significant amount of weight and in 2002 was hospitalized after undergoing emergency surgery for a condition he wouldn't identify. Rumors were rampant that he had cancer, but Mr. McIntyre denied that he had the disease or any other "life-threatening disease" in an October 2002 interview with The Augusta Chronicle.
He said he had changed his diet and started walking five miles a day, which led to his losing 50 pounds. He said his sickness also contributed to more weight loss.
Solomon Walker, who worked with Mr. McIntyre when both were at Pilgrim Health Insurance Co. and was his campaign manager during two of Mr. McIntyre's mayoral runs, said he knew that his longtime friend was not in the best of health.
"He had been ill, but I just didn't know how bad it was," said Mr. Walker, who was a Morehouse College classmate of Mr. McIntyre. "Ed was one of the greatest visionaries for this community, but never had the opportunity to fulfill it."
Mr. McIntyre, who was a member of the first graduating class of Lucy C. Laney High School, was heavily involved in Augusta politics for more than three decades. In 1970, he became the first black member of what was then the Richmond County Board of Commissioners.
That election was the first of several firsts for Mr. McIntyre that would stamp him as a player on the local - and state - political scene.
His most renowned political achievement came Oct. 27, 1981, when he narrowly defeated Joe E. Taylor Sr., in a runoff to become the first black to hold Augusta's top office. Mr. McIntyre overcame racially tinged accusations by Mr. Taylor, who said publicly that "Augusta didn't have a black-white problem. We've got a black candidate problem."
Mr. McIntyre's win made him not only Augusta's first black mayor, but also one of the first in the South.
During his tenure as mayor, Mr. McIntyre was credited with reducing city property taxes and increasing salaries for government employees. Perhaps his biggest accomplishment was his push for creation of a riverwalk along the long-ignored Savannah River levee.
"He should be honored by having his name on the riverwalk," former state Sen. Charles Walker said. "He loved Augusta and wanted to continue serving Augusta."
However, his time in office was cut short when he was he was indicted and later convicted of bribery and extortion in April 1984. He was convicted of conspiring with a former Augusta city councilman, Joseph Jones, to extort nearly $25,000 from developers interested in doing business with the city.
Mr. McIntyre proclaimed his innocence, saying he thought the $9,000 he accepted from a developer was a campaign contribution.
He spent just more than a year in federal prison and was released in 1985.
After his civil and political rights were restored in 1988, Mr. McIntyre wasted little time in trying to resurrect his political career.
He ran unsuccessfully for his former office in 1990, 1998 and 2002. In his last mayoral attempt, he lost to Bob Young, collecting 48.3 percent of the vote to Mr. Young's 51.6 percent.
Charles DeVaney, who followed Mr. McIntyre as mayor, said he respected his 1990 mayoral opponent as a politician and a community activist.
"It's not to say we didn't have our disagreements, but certainly when we were in each other's company we always had very pleasant words," Mr. DeVaney said Saturday.
After his 2002 defeat, Mr. McIntyre devoted much of his time with the organizations he started, such as the Ed McIntyre Foundation and the Augusta African-American Historical Committee Inc., which is working to put monuments on Laney-Walker Boulevard that will honor prominent Augusta blacks such as Lucy Craft Laney.
Those who knew Mr. McIntyre said his legacy will be one of community service to both blacks and whites.
Mr. McIntyre is survived by his wife of 46 years, Juanita, a daughter and two sons. Funeral services will be held at noon Friday at Good Shepherd Baptist Church, with the Rev. Clarence Moore officiating.
NOV. 16, 1933: Born in Augusta, son of Essie McIntyre, Baptist preacher
1947-49: Attended Haines Normal and Industrial Institute, Augusta.
1951: Graduate, Lucy C. Laney High School
1956: Graduate, Morehouse College, Also attended Paine College, Fort Valley State College, Atlanta University and Columbia University.
1970: Augusta-Richmond County Planning and Zoning Board. First black board member.
1970-78: Richmond County Board of Commissioners. Two terms, first black elected to the board. Elected chairman 1977-78, first black chairman.
1971-73: Richmond County Public Works Program, chairman.
1972-73: Richmond County Industrial Development Authority.
1981-MID-1983: Mayor of Augusta; resigned while facing federal bribery charges.
1984: Convicted of bribery and extortion; sent to jail.
1985: Released from prison
1988: Civil and political rights restored
1988: Ran unsuccessfully for state Senate.
1990: Ran unsuccessfully for mayor
1997: Augusta Regional Airport Commission.
1998: Ran unsuccessfully for mayor
2002: Ran unsuccessfully for mayor
AUG. 14, 2004: Died at University Hospital.
Wife, Juanita; Children, Wanda, Edward Marlow Jr. and Dr. Ashley Darnell McIntyre
Staff Writers Mike Wynn and Sylvia Cooper contributed to this article.
Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or firstname.lastname@example.org.