Working all night in the cold, ice and snow was the easy part.
Dealing with a death made it almost unbearable.
"It really changed the mood around here," said Tim Holloway, assistant superintendent of Columbia County Roads and Bridges. "It was a real difficult time. We'd seen him bounce back so often."
After a long battle against cancer, Nick Crawford, a face in Columbia County government for more than 15 years, died Wednesday.
"He was just a great all-around man," Holloway said.
Crawford - a lifelong resident of Columbia County - turned 69 Wednesday.
The funeral will be Monday at 11 a.m. in the chapel at King Funeral Home on Davis Road. Interment will follow at the Crawford Family Cemetery in Appling.
Crawford is survived by his wife, Starr; two daughters, Melba Mosley of Grovetown and Maria Gonzalez of Martinez; a stepdaughter, Pam Howard of Dearing; a brother, Paul Crawford of Athens, Ga.,; five grandchildren and three bulldogs: Gus, Blaze and Sarasota.
On Thursday, word of Crawford's death spread through Columbia County, and officials reflected on what he had meant to one of Georgia's fastest-growing counties.
"He was a stabilizing force," said County Administrator Steve Szablewski, adding that Crawford's experience covered contracting, accounting, law and insurance. "He was like an adjustable wrench. He could fit any job."
During his tenure with the county, Crawford also served as director of financial services for several years.
Crawford "retired" from the county last year - stepping down as director of the Construction and Maintenance Department. But he stayed on for months as a consultant, stopping by the Appling office regularly and always staying just a phone call away.
"There are not a lot of guys who could make that transition easy," said Director Kevin Lear, who took over for Crawford at the end of May. "But he was the kind of guy that could wear several different hats. You know you could get along with him really easy - there was no politics about him whatsoever."
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