MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Tommy Olmstead, the former Macon Mayor and chairman of the Bibb County Commission, passed away Wednesday at the age of 83.
He started his career by owning an office supply store on Mulberry Street in Macon.
He then set his sights on running for the state senate.
"I worked in his senate campaign," says current Macon Mayor, Robert Reichert. "I got to observe first-hand kind of the way he ran a campaign and the number of people that he had working with him and for him in that effort."
After serving on the senate for several years, Olmstead returned to Macon in the early 90s to run for mayor.
"He was the first mayor to look at service delivery on a county-wide basis," says Macon City Councilman Henry Ficklin. "The police department used to provide crossing guards for the schools but Tommy Olmstead decided that that was a county function because the schools were county-wide. That was one of the first kind of indications that he gave us that he was committed to let each government take on its own responsibility."
Later, he served as chairman of the Department of Human Resources before coming back to Macon to run for Bibb County Commission Chairman in 2000, where he beat out current commissioner Joe Allen.
"Even though I lost, he taught me a lesson," says Allen. "It taught me humility, and that's something (when) a cocky young man in politics thinks he can do certain things, and finds out you can't."
Those who knew Olmstead well say he will be missed by the city and the community.
"Our younger political leaders and business leaders could do well to follow in the footsteps of a Tommy Olmstead," says city council member Elaine Lucas.
"It's a day that we can celebrate his life and his dedication," says Reichert. "But it's a day of sadness and grief because I'm sure his family is upset. His children are upset and will miss him. And we all will."
Olmstead's legacy of hard work is sure to live on in Macon and Bibb County. Visitation for Mr. Olmstead will be held from 6-8 Friday night at Hart's at the Cupola located at 6324 Peake Road. The funeral is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Vineville United Methodist Church.