George was a resident of Griffin for more than 60 years, and served as city manager from 1952 to 1957 and as interim city manager in 2003. The city courtroom in One Griffin Center, where the Griffin Board of Commissioners meets, was named for George in 2009.
“We lost an icon in municipal government,” said City Manager Kenny Smith. “He was known throughout the local and state government arena and is probably unmatched with his influence in local government during his 26 years as executive director of the Georgia Municipal Association.”
Smith said, “Having served as Griffin city manager before his GMA service, his influence is still seen in Griffin and we were very proud to name our municipal hall in his honor in 2009.”
George was born in Stone Mountain, but came to Griffin following his service in World War II, as temporary manager of the Griffin office of Atlanta Gas Light from 1947 to 1950. While city manager, he also served on the Industrial Development Committee and the Hospital Authority.
He was also active with the local Chamber of Commerce and several local clubs, including Moose and the VFW, and was a past president of the Griffin Kiwanis Club and the local Elks Club. He also served as chairman of the Spalding 2000 Commission and as chairman of the Spalding County Planning Commission.
He was a member of First Baptist Church of Griffin, teaching the Boys 11- and 12-year-old Sunday School Class, and was involved in the Flint River Boy Scout Council.Griffin Board of Commissioners member Dick Morrow said, “Elmer was a delightful gentleman and the ultimate combination of visionary and practical manager and organizer. His excellent work as Griffin city manger brought him to the attention of the relatively new Georgia Municipal Association directors.”
Morrow said George was “picked to be their first full-time executive director and proved the perfect choice to develop GMA and make it into the professional powerhouse it is today, representing over 500 Georgia cities. He created and left behind a remarkable legacy embodied in GMA’s mission of advocacy, service and innovation.”
“The really wonderful personal part of Elmer is that even though he had a major executive position and associated with governors, legislators and even presidents, he never lost his quiet humility,” Morrow said. “He was always friendly, pleasant, and the embodiment of a true Southern gentleman. I saw him as a great model and mentor.”
George served on the local government Committee of the White House Conference on National Balanced Growth, local government Committee of the Southern Growth Policies Council of Southern Governors, Goals for Georgia Commission, sponsored by then-Gov. Jimmy Carter, and the Issues Committee of Gov. Joe Frank Harris’ Georgia Growth Strategies Commission.
He was on the board of directors of the National League of Cities, serving on numerous committees. He was also a past president of the Georgia Society of Association Executives and the Georgia City Managers Association, and past secretary of the Georgia Planning Association.
City Attorney Drew Whalen said, “In the 30 years I’ve represented the city of Griffin, I hardly recall any occasion, whether I was at the General Assembly, the appellate courts, or a Georgia Municipal Association conference, that someone didn’t ask me about Elmer George. He was truly well respected as a former executive director at GMA and served as Griffin’s city manager twice, prior to his long tenure at GMA, and again in 2003 when the city needed his interim services.”
Whalen said, “Elmer loved the city of Griffin and he loved our state. He will be sorely missed by many.”
Visitation for George will be on Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Conner-Westbury Funeral Home, 1891 W. McIntosh Road, Griffin. Funeral services will be held on Thursday at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Griffin with Dr. Bill Hardy officiating. Interment will follow in Oak Hill Cemetery.