TIFTON, GA (WALB) - A family is mourning the loss of a pioneer in Tifton.
Family members call Harold Harper Sr. ‘The Godfather’ of Tifton’s downtown development.
Harper Sr. moved to Tifton with a few dollars and a dream many years ago; building his legacy, literally, from the ground up.
“He always used to tell me, he came here with 50 dollars in his pocket,” said Hal Harper Jr., Harper Sr.'s son.
Harper Sr. died Wednesday morning in his sleep at 89 years old. The family believes his death was heart-related.
“He was born in Ambrose, Georgia and he came to Tifton in 1956,” said Hal.
Harper walked throughout Tifton often and you rarely saw him without his signature hat on. He was responsible for giving many spots like the Myon Hotel, a makeover.
“And that was his specialty, renovating old buildings and do that, and just, he could see things that I don’t think other people could see,” said Hal.
Hal and his dad worked together for many years at Harper Enterprises.
“He initially came to Tifton as a surveyor and he opened a surveying business in Tifton," said Hal. "And by virtue of that, he got into real estate development and other retail business.”
Harper Sr.'s latest project was the renovation of two tobacco houses. He turned one of the buildings into an apartment and restaurant before he died. The other building is still being renovated
“Well I don’t know that you can fill his shoes. He was a unique individual,” said Hal.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Hal is the company’s new president and CEO.
“He had a saying that he was a jack of all trades and a master of none, so he did, he did a lot of things in the real estate development and the retail businesses," said Hal.
The family said Harper was the father of four children and his wife is still living.
Hal said they were married for 44 years.
The visitation for Harper Sr. will be Thursday at Albritton Funeral Home from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Funeral services will Friday at Albritton at 11 a.m.