Governor Maddox remembered by South Georgians - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Governor Maddox remembered by South Georgians

June 25, 2003

Tifton -- Former Georgia Governor Lester Maddox died Wednesday morning at age 87. Maddox gained national notoriety for chasing blacks from his Pickrick Restaurant in Atlanta with an axe handle, rather than serving them.

Maddox went on to become Georgia's governor in 1967, and later Lt. Governor in 1971. Maddox died  at a hospice in Atlanta.

 Two men in Tifton who knew Governor Maddox, remembered the man, as well as the politician.

Jimmy Carson works at his laundry business in Tifton today with a heavy heart. A man he counts as a lifelong friend, former Georgia Governor Lester Maddox, is dead.

Carson was only 13 years old when he met Maddox, who had come to Tifton to campaign for Governor. Carson said "At the time he did not know any of the people in Tifton, so he rode us around in his car. We showed him where various people lived or worked, business leaders and people in the community. And he went from there."

Carson and Maddox stayed close friends ever since. Carson has many mementos of Maddox's colorful life. Carson said "Governor Maddox had a pretty good voice, and he was into music and politics.These are a couple of the albums he had out."

Maddox was well known as a segregationist when the Civil Rights Act became law in 1964. But Carson says Lester was not a bigot. "I don't feel he was, because in his administration he appointed a lot of blacks, and he treated them fairly when he was in the business world."

 Dr. Hal Henderson of Tifton met and interviewed Governor Maddox for books he wrote about Georgia politics. He says Maddox was a star in Georgia history. Henderson said "We had a symposium with four former Governor's. And he dominated that performance. They talked for an hour and a half, but it was clearly a Lester Maddox show."

Lester Maddox's last public speech was made in Tifton last year, at Jimmy Carson's request. Maddox was in failing health, but still sharp mentally.  Maddox said "I want to be remembered trying to be as honest as I could, and as real as I could."

Jimmy Carson will attend Governor Maddox's funeral this week, to say goodbye to a life long friend.

Former Governor Maddox will be buried Friday at Arlington Memorial Cemetery in Atlanta next to his wife of 60 years, Virginia.

Maddox will lie in state at the State Capitol from 9 A.M. until noon Friday. The funeral will be at 2 o-clock at the Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.

posted at 4:24 by jimw@walb.com

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