Former Columbia County commissioner Tommy Mercer, known for fiery rhetoric and boundless compassion, died Wednesday night at University Hospital.
Mercer, 70, a Springlakes resident who served in the District 2 commission seat from 2000-2008, was perhaps best known for pushing through the county’s indoor smoking ban in 2004, and later for paving the way for construction of new health department and animal services facilities.
He had been hospitalized recently for back surgery, and died from complications that later developed, said his youngest son, Trent.
An Augusta native and 1959 graduate of the Academy of Richmond County, Mercer was a star athlete in high school, particularly in baseball, and as an adult served decades as a high school football and baseball referee. He ran for county commission in 2000 after retiring from Procter and Gamble in 1996.
Mercer also worked in costume for more than 25 years as the Santa Claus for Augusta’s Fat Man’s Forest with his wife, Brenda, dressed as Mrs. Claus.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced, but will be administered by Thomas Poteet and Sons Funeral Home on Davis Road.