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Joey Brush killed in motorcycle wreck

Joey Brush Jr. remembered by colleagues, friends

Posted: May 7, 2015 - 11:12am  |  Updated: May 10, 2015 - 12:06am
Former State Senator Joey Brush, 59, also served two terms in the state House, and was known for work on education issues.  JIM BLAYLOCK
JIM BLAYLOCK
Former State Senator Joey Brush, 59, also served two terms in the state House, and was known for work on education issues.

Friends and colleagues were shocked and saddened Thursday at the death of former state legislator Ben Joseph “Joey” Brush Jr., who was killed in a motorcycle wreck in Columbia County.

Brush, 59, died after a car pulled out in front of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle he was driving on Columbia Road at about 8:30 a.m.

“Joey and I were good friends,” said state Senator Bill Jackson, R-Appling. “My heart just breaks.”

Jackson, who was also close friends with Brush’s late father, Ben Brush Sr., and their families, said during the most recent legislative session, Brush stayed at Jackson’s office most every day while he was in Atlanta.

Jackson said he and Brush served in the state House of representatives and Senate, but their terms never overlapped.

Brush served two terms in the state House in 1992-93 and 1995-96. During his tenure there, Brush was active in education-related issues and was instrumental in the passage of Senate Bill 709, the Education Reform Act.

He became a member of the Georgia Senate in 1997, where as chairman of the senate’s education committee he handled all of the Department of Education bills including helping with the School Safety Act. He lost his seat in 2004, in the Republican primary against Jim Whitehead.

“Joey was one of the hardest-working public servants I have known,” said state Rep Barry Fleming, R-Harlem. “He was passionate about educating kids and made significant contributions to Georgia as chairman of the State Senate Education committee. The Columbia County community will miss him.”

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle also mourned Brush’s passing.

“Our state lost a noble Georgian today. Senator Joey Brush was not only a fierce advocate for conservative values in the Georgia legislature but was also a great friend,” Cagle said. “He will be deeply missed and his legacy will not be forgotten.”

Senators who served with Brush remember him fondly, especially for serenading them with gospel and country songs in the break room next to the Senate chamber. Colleagues would name a song, and he always seemed to know the lyrics.

“I loved that singing, and he loved that motorcycle,” said Sen. Ed Harbison, D-Columbus. “We would all get in the back room, and he would tell us of his adventures, and he would croon to us sometimes.”

Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle said he was at a loss for words Thursday after the death of an ally and advocate for public safety. He and Brush worked together on legislation during his Senate tenure many times, including the bill that allowed reserve officers and doctors assigned to SWAT teams be covered under worker compensation insurance.

“Joey helped introduce legislation so they could be covered,” Whittle said. “He was always supportive of law enforcement.”

Brush was not only a politician, but successful builder and developer currently working with Benchmark Homes
Ltd.

Active in the local building community, Brush followed in the footsteps of his late father, Ben Brush, by serving as president of the Builders Association of Metro Augusta, said Mark Herbert, a good friend and fellow home builder.

Brush was leading the association for his second term this year, said Herbert, owner of Herbert Homes.

“I thought the world of him,” said Herbert, who knew Brush for about 30 years. “He was just a fine, outstanding individual.”

As a teen, Brush became involved in construction with his father, said Herbert, adding that during Brush’s time as a legislator, he was instrumental in helping pass laws pertaining to the industry.

“Of course when he got out of politics, he got back into the building industry,” Herbert said. “He was always into the government affairs and different ordinances that came in. He was always a front runner in it.

“He’ll definitely be missed.”

Friend and colleague state Rep. Ben Harbin said he and Brush roomed together during his early years in the legislature.

“I’m devastated,” Harbin said. “I still can’t believe it.

“He has always been a great friend. The last time I saw him, he looked so happy. Then again, I don’t think I ever saw him when he didn’t look happy.”

When not working in politics and building, Brush was often seen participating in his other passions – motorcycle riding and music – and rarely without his trademark smile.

“He was always smiling,” Jackson said. “He was a good fellow. He was always jovial. He was a good person.

“He loved playing his guitar.”

That smile was a genuine one, said Jarrod Adkins, lead pastor of Eleven Sixteen Church in Evans. Brush’s parents founded the church as Bible Cathedral in the 1980s and Brush was a fixture, a leader in the congregation.

Brush, who also was a minister, spent Sunday mornings as part of the church worship team playing bass guitar when he wasn’t preaching at other churches.

Known for his genuine smile, Adkins said he always appreciated the encouragement Brush gave him as a young pastor as he always wanted what was best for the pastor and the church.

“He is one of the greatest personalities in our church,” said Adkins. “Always friendly. He always had a smile on his face. Loved on everybody. Welcomed everybody. He had a heart for people for sure.”

Staff writer Jenna Martin and Morris News Service Bureau Chief Walter Jones contributed to this article

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Comments (1)

Annabelle

Joey Brush

I work at Waffle House in Evans and and Joey was a regular customer I he would always ask me where I was working and talk to me and he has came in on all shifts this has sadden me so much. He will be missed dearly from us here at the Waffle House and mostly me.I pray for his family and all that knew wonderful man who was taken way to soon but know we have another awesome angel.