For Brad Usry, Santa Claus died Wednesday.
Before he was a Columbia County commissioner, Tommy Mercer for more than 25 years portrayed Santa at the Usry family’s Augusta store, Fat Man’s Forest.
Mercer, 70, died Wednesday evening after a brief hospitalization.
Funeral arrangements for Mercer were held Saturday. In addition to his wife, Brenda, he is survived by seven children and 10 grandchildren.
Fat Man’s previous Santa had just retired “around 1980,” Usry recalled, and Mercer walked in before the store could start searching for a replacement.