On Friday, Nov. 2, 2001, Columbia County lost a prominent native son, Guy E. Fleming Jr. He was a Christian gentleman, a loving husband and father, a respected businessman, civic leader, a bleed red and black University of Georgia Bulldog alumni, and a promoter of Columbia County, especially its school system. It was as a personal friend and through our association with the school system that I knew Guy best.
Guy was first elected to the Columbia County Board of Education in 1968. As a member of the first elected board of education, Guy was one who could be trusted to make decisions based on what was best for the students as well as looking after the welfare of the employees of the system.
This was during the difficult years of the integration of the schools, and time after time I saw Guy take a stand on issues in an unbiased manner and make decisions based on sound educational principals, rather than trying to appease those who had their own personal agenda.
Guy was elected by his fellow board members as chairman on two different occasions and, under his chairmanship during the 1970s, working hand in hand with the superintendent, John Pierce Blanchard, the school system made tremendous progress toward becoming one of the best in the state.
It was during this time that I was the associate superintendent and our professional relationship developed into a personal friendship. As my friend, Guy could always be counted on to give me good advice and to be there for me when I needed his counsel.
Because of Guys leadership qualities, he was honored by school board members from across the state when they elected him as president of the Georgia School Boards Association. During his tenure and under his leadership, the GSBA became one of the strongest influences regarding public education issues at the state level.
In 1980, Guy was elected and served four more years on the Board of Education before retiring to concentrate on his insurance and real estate business. It was my good fortune to have Guy serve as chairman of the board during the two years I was superintendent.
shall always be grateful to Guy for his patient understanding and help as we reorganized the school system to accommodate future growth and establish the middle school program. His loyalty, as well as his strength and courage to do the right thing, will always be remembered.
Goodbye, my friend; you will be missed.
(Don Thornhill served as superintendent of Columbia County Schools from 1980-1982, and is retired from the Georgia Department of Education.)
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