Former Watkinsville Mayor Charles Ivie, who resigned his position in August due to health problems, died Sunday at his home. He was 75.
Ivie, a lifelong resident of Oconee County, was elected mayor in 2011 and planned to seek a fourth term until a diagnosis of advanced cancer this summer changed those plans.
Ivie was involved in several projects in the city, including the formation of the Watkinsville Woods nature park, the second phase of a downtown streetscape project and a new Watkinsville comfort station. He was most recently working on improvements to Harden Hill Road and an expanded sewer system for the industrial park.
Ivie was lauded not only for projects he spearheaded as mayor, but for his involvement in other organizations that served the community.
“We worked closely together on the public art projects and on the grants,” Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation Executive Director Cindy Farley said. “He would be out there meeting with the artists when it was time to install the sculptures, so he was very hands-on. We needed that kind of support from the city in order to accomplish what we did with the public art projects.”
“Charles always said he wanted to leave the city better than he found it, and he certainly did,” Farley said.
Hardigree Wildlife Sanctuary Executive Director Steve Scruggs also found a supportive hand in Ivie, who once had city employees haul several loads of mulch for a nature trail at the nonprofit outdoors education facility.
“Sharon (Scruggs) and I sat in his office last year. He wanted to know what we were doing and he became supportive of it. His attitude toward greenspace and having children educated on the outdoors was very exciting for him,” Scruggs said.
The city staff also praised his tenure.
“He was an excellent mayor,” Police Chief Lee O’Dillon said. “When he went around the state to meetings like the Georgia Municipal Association, he left a favorable impression of Watkinsville with other people. He was a good ambassador for the city.”
“He had a unique blend of a steel backbone and a soft heart. It made him a really great father, grandfather and leader,” said Watkinsville City Councilman Brian Brodrick. “It was that combination that helped him get so much done.”
Brodrick remembered how Ivie worked to keep the Extra Special People (ESP) facility in the city at a time it was looking to construct a new building.
“He loved those kids. I think he called them all his grandkids,” Brodrick said.
“For the four years I’ve been on council, he is one of the best mayors we’ve ever had,” said Connie Massey, who took over the mayor’s duties when Ivie resigned.
“He was a salesman most of his life, so I think that was a good background for a mayor. He had a good sense of humor and he was caring,” she said.
Retired banking executive Amrey Harden came to know Ivie in 1976, when Harden was elected mayor and Ivie was on the city council.
“Charles had a lifelong interest in helping others and doing what he could to make Watkinsville a better place. He loved his family, loved his church and he was a prince of a fellow,” Harden said.