By Monroe Roark
A significant part of Henry
County’s history was laid to rest Monday in Locust Grove.
William Lanier (Billy)
Carter died Friday. He was 83. A lifelong Henry County resident,
he was a businessman as well as a civic and community leader who
spent more than a half-century in public service.
“Billy touched a lot of
people,” said Bob White, executive director of the Henry County
Development Authority. Carter was one of the original board members
of that body when it was formed in 1968 and was chairman for most of
the next 40-plus years, stepping down in 2010 for health reasons.
Beginning in 1970, he also
served on the county’s Planning & Zoning Board for more than two
decades, nearly all of that time as its chairman. He stepped down in
1996 when new county regulations mandated that a citizen could only
serve in one appointed position, and he chose to remain on the
He was appointed to his
various county positions by nine different county commissioners.
It was in Locust Grove,
however, that he had the greatest impact. He was a city councilman
off and on for more than 40 years from 1950 until just a few years
ago. He was Locust Grove’ police chief from 1957 until 1982.
“He was the go-to person” in
Locust Grove, according to his son-in-law Warren Holder, a longtime
public servant in his own right. “If you had a police matter, a
fire, a broken pipe or a cat on the roof, he was the guy.”
Holder compared Carter and
Locust Grove during those years to Andy Griffith and Mayberry,
noting the respect that so much of the community had for him.
“People came to him for all
kinds of advice and he pointed them in the right direction,” said
Carter’s civic involvement
over the years included the Henry County Farm Bureau, the Locust
Grove Lions Club and the Henry County Jaycees. He was also on the
Board of Trustees at Griffin Tech.
His service as a Mason was
“near and dear to him,” according to Holder, who said that Carter
helped many burn victims and sick children receive treatment at
Scottish Rite and other places.
He was a member of Masonic
Fraternal Lodge #37 in McDonough for more than 50 years. He was a
charter member of the Griffin Shrine Club and served as potentate of
Yaarab Temple in 1986, and he was also first governor of the Henry
County Moose Lodge.
A member of Locust Grove’s
First Baptist Church, Carter owned a trucking company from the early
1950s until the mid-1980s and operated an auction company from 1990
until a few years ago.
One of the four major awards
given annually by the Henry County Chamber of Commerce is the Billy
Carter Public Service Award.
He is survived by his wife,
Gladys Carter of Locust Grove; daughter and son-in-law, Cindy and
Warren Holder of Locust Grove; three grandchildren, four
great-grandchildren, one sister, one niece and one nephew. All of
them live in Henry County.
“He was a tremendous leader, obviously. His
fingerprints are on much of the growth in Henry County from the
1960s on,” said White. “For me, he was a mentor and a good friend.”