Columbia County has lost one of the men who helped shape the early development of the county.
Earl W. Allen Sr., a longtime county servant, died Friday.
Allen founded CSRA Camperland Inc. in Martinez. He also served on the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission for 30 years, including during a time of great change in the county during the 1970s and 1980s. It was then that Columbia County began to change from a quiet bedroom community to a sprawling suburban center.
“That is when we were growing hand over fist,” said Don Bartles, the county’s solid waster manager.
Bartles, who was a county engineer at the time, said the county’s long-lasting development is due to men like Allen, former Planning Director Robert Cato, who served from 1977 to 1991, and his predecessor, Alvin Jones, who died on Sept. 20. Allen resigned from the Planning Commission in 2000.
“Everything that is going on today in Columbia County is standing on the foundation that those men laid,” Bartles said.
Bartles described Allen as a genuinely friendly man who would listen, but didn’t take foolishness. He and his colleagues conducted themselves as professionals in their dealings with the public eye and in their private lives and took their jobs as public servants seriously.
“They represented the best of what we are as a county,” Bartles said. “They were public servants. It was real. ... (They had) the wisdom to know and the courage to defend the public interests.
‘‘That was their everyday activity.”
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Bartles said up to 30 residential developments were in some stage of development each year.
Ted Lane was the first county commissioner elected from Martinez, which he represented for 18 years. He said Allen and others involved in development in the county were under a lot of pressure to do it in the right way.
“They made good decisions back then,” Lane said. “The county was growing. We were young and we were expanding. ... They handled it real well.
Just after winning his first election, Lane said he chose Allen as his representative on the Planning Commission. The two grew up together in Augusta and he trusted Allen to do the right thing.
“Earl was very smooth, real good, real gentle and looked at everything real thoroughly,” Lane said. “He didn’t jump to conclusions. It had to be sound and it had to be fair.”
Allen also was founder and director of First Columbia Bank; a former president of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and a former director of the board of Georgia Bank and Trust.
He is survived by a son, Earl “Doc” Allen Jr.; a daughter, Bonnie A. Price; a brother, Ray Allen; a sister, Bobbie Anderson; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
Funeral services were held Tuesday at Martinez Baptist Church and Westover Memorial Park.