Valdosta mourns loss of mayor - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta mourns loss of mayor

October 12, 2003

Valdosta - A familiar face is missing from the community. After 16 years as the city's leader, 62-year-old Mayor James H. Rainwater has died. "I'll remember him as a great citizen, he really did a lot for our town," said Cheryl Rice, Valdosta Resident.

Emergency medical crews arrived at Rainwater's Georgia Avenue home around 10:30 Sunday morning after receiving a 911 call from one of his friends. The friend told the dispatcher that while they were on the phone, the mayor began to complain of chest pains and then the phone went silent.

EMS found the Mayor unresponsive inside his home. He was pronounced dead at South Georgia Medical Center at 11:47a.m.

Valdosta residents, still learning of the news, are in shock. "I just saw him at a grand opening for a store not too long ago and he was in wonderful spirits, looked to be in perfect health," said Rice.

Matthew Snow attended church with Rainwater and learned of the news at this morning's service. "He was a man of God, very friendly in church, and seemed to really love people," said Snow.

Rainwater served as Valdosta city councilman at large from 1986 to 1988, and was also Mayor Pro Tem in 1986. He led the city to many great accomplishments, including the recent metropolitan designation. "He had longevity, and did a great job for 16 years," said Rice. "He was a great leader for our town and that's why I think he stayed in office for so long."

Albany Mayor Tommy Coleman says South Georgia has lost a great leader. "This is a great tragedy. Jimmy Rainwater had been in local governemnt for many years and was a fine person. He was also a great friend of mine and a good friend to local government all throughout Georgia."

Coleman credits Rainwater for bringing business and tourism to Valdosta and earning the city its metropolitan status.

Rainwater was up for his 5th term as mayor in the November election. He leaves behind two daughters, two grandchildren, and a city in mourning.

The city will call an emergency meeting early this week to decide who will act as mayor.

posted at 5:10 by ashley.harper@walb.com

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